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World Music CD Reviews Asia & Far East

A Moving Sound

By Chris Heim
Published April 27, 2007

Songs Beyond Words
A Moving Sound

Not quite pop, nor folk, nor art music (but a little bit of each), this Taiwanese group’s second album blends Eastern and Western instruments, traditional and modern sources and influences from China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, India and other stopping points along the Silk Road. Lyrics from a famed poet of 1000 years ago nestle next to modern musings about visiting the outermost planets; a day at the market gives way to ghosts in the night; a political marriage from the year 641 becomes a metaphor for multiculturalism and feminism today. You might not understand the words (apparently neither will Taiwanese listeners, since Mia Hsieh sings not only in a variety of dialects, but also in her own made-up language—the elegant booklet includes extensive notes in English). But delicately balanced between many worlds, Songs Beyond Words provides both an entryway into Eastern music and artful expression of the universal human condition.