The sixth annual Zandari Festa is taking place in Hongdae from September 29 –
October 1 with 120 international and domestic acts. To spotlight some of the event’s performers, Korea Gig Guide is asking a bunch of acts five simple questions.
For the first installment, we’re talking with Farewell Dear Ghost from Austria. The final schedule is not yet out, but check back to soon to see when and where Farewell Dear Ghost will play at Zandari Festa. Now let’s get to their answers!
Why are you excited to be performing at Zandari Festa 2017?
It’s our first time in Korea ever. You always get excited about first times, don’t you?
What can people expect from a Farewell Dear Ghost live show?
We’re always striving for emotional release and some kind of energetic dynamic that is permanently present when we perform on stage. We’re not afraid of fist-in-the-air anthems, raising our voices and our bodies to create some sort of feeling of unity. That’s something we’re always looking for.
For fest-goers not familiar with Farewell Dear Ghost yet, what should they know about you?
They should know that we play our little hearts out for everyone that comes to celebrate with us. I guess, our music is in a way trying to break boundaries, introducing different genres to each other and having them all dance around together. That all somehow adds up to a sometimes exaggerated, but always honest and emotional live performance.
Aside from performing, what else would you like to do during Zandari Festa 2017?
We’d love to explore the sheer infinite possibilities Seoul has to offer. Coming mostly from the rural side of Austria, we’re not really used to huge towers, millions of people meeting in the heart of the city center. It’s going to overwhelm and maybe scare us a little bit. But we cannot wait to let the city operate on us.
If Farewell Dear Ghost was a cocktail, what would it be and why?
A nice, but pretty tough question. Preferably, we’d describe ourselves as a Pina Colada. Sweet and sticky at the same time and you’re not really sure whether you should taste it. But once you do, you experience inner warmth and something that you’ve never felt before. So you’re off for thirty more.
So, if you’ve checked out KGG over the past few months, you’ve probably noticed that not a lot has been posted at the calendar. And sadly I don’t see that changing in the near future.
What can I say? Things change. Shawn left Korea a couple of years ago. I have a family now, so don’t really have much time for going to concerts.
But, even more importantly, there’s no longer the same need for a concert-listing website. When I started the Korea Gig Guide in 2008, it was an unbelievable pain-in-the-butt to find shows in Korea. Most bands did not have their own websites and Facebook wasn’t in much use in Korea. Bands and clubs often did have Daum cafes or Cyworld pages, but all-too-often they were badly maintained or behind a security wall. There weren’t many websites – in English or Korean – where people could learn about the groups and the indie scene.
Today, there are many options. Almost all the groups and clubs are on Facebook. There are multiple concert listing websites in English, and plenty of English-language materials about the scene. There just is not the same need that were was when I started, nearly a decade ago.
We might post the occasional story here, and the KGG Facebook page is still going strong. But for the most part, the Korea Gig Guide is going dormant. If you were a reader of KGG, thanks a lot for checking us out and helping local artists. Keep supporting good music. Cheers!
Korean rock duo 57 are heading off for an extensive tour of the UK and Europe this May and June. Originally hailing from Jeonju, they have gone from strength to strength since relocating to Seoul. In 2015, they won the KT&G Band Discovery contest and reached the finals of the EBS Hello Rookie contest, and then in 2016 they were invited to the UK to perform at the Liverpool Sound City Festival (using the opportunity to perform around the UK for three weeks).
Now 57 is about to embark on an even bigger tour of Europe, spending seven weeks traveling the UK, France, Germany and Poland. The Korea Gig Guide was lucky enough to talk with the group before they flew out.
KGG: How are you guys feeling with regards to the upcoming tour of the UK?
We are crazy excited about the tour. It’s really long and we have so many shows. I hope that people are ready for us to come.
How are you approaching things differently this time compared to last year?
Last year’s tour was centered around an appearance at Liverpool Sound City. We emailed so many promoters and venues. Sadly, we hardly got any replies, just 5 or 6, I think. I think that one problem was that we started a little late last year. We did not realize how intense the competition was going to be. It is festival season over in Europe and so there are so many bands on tour. This year we have been working with Patrick from DoIndie to prepare the tour. We started much, much earlier this time around. I think we prepared the press pack and started reaching out to people in early November 2016. That early start really paid off and he has managed to get us 23 shows in the UK, France, Germany and Poland. Patrick’s family have even been helping out as well. His dad helped us buy a car to use for the tour and they are providing a place to stay as well as lending us their tents, sleeping bags, etc. We really appreciate all the help they are giving.
Having previously played in the UK, how does it feel to venture to other countries?
It always feels great to visit a new place. Every city seems to have it’s own unique atmosphere to enjoy. Also, each time we play a show in a new place, we don’t know if we’ll ever have the chance to go back there so we play it as it if it will be our last time to visit that place. We give it 120 percent and leave everything on the stage.
What was the biggest surprise about the shows last time?
It was a great surprise to me just to be able to be over in the UK performing. Of course, it was always a dream to do something like that, but it still felt like a dream even when it became reality. The whole thing was a bit of a challenge, as it was our first time playing outside of Korea. We learned a lot.
With 23 shows planned, how do you recharge the batteries in between shows, and what will you plan to do when not rocking out?
I have no idea! We will have to be like robots and just keep going. Actually, I am a little worried about that, but we will get through it. The adrenaline of the shows will keep us going I think. Also, Snow’s brother is coming with us to help with the driving and stuff. That means we should be able to recharge a little on the road. We have some days off from time to time as well so we will get a little sightseeing in and and relaxation time as well. I think as long as we eat well and sleep well we will be fine. We will take some energy from the audiences as well and use that to help get us though.
Could you tell us a bit about your debut album and what you’re working on now?
Our debut album consisted of seven songs that were made in the early days. The album’s title is “57” and contains a spectrum of sounds ranging from acoustic to powerful. We self-recorded that first album.
The new album which we plan to release in the summer this year is still to be recorded. We have put down some demo tracks, which are sounding great. But as soon as we come back from Europe we will be hitting the studio. This time round we won’t be self-recording it. It will all be done in a studio with the help of engineers, etc. I think it will be a much fuller sound. It’s going to be great anyway.
What’s the biggest challenge for yourself and other Korean independent bands when it comes to traveling and performing overseas?
I don’t know. It is a hard question to answer. From a booking perspective, I do not think it is any harder for Korean bands than it would be for unknown bands from any other country. Booking shows as an unknown band from anywhere is a real slog. It’s not just like you make the press pack, put it out there and people book you. You need to send thousands of emails and always chase everyone. It is really hard work.
On tour … I guess every band is different. Also, we have never put together a tour like this before, so I am not even sure what challenges we will face. I think the biggest challenge is to face up to your fears, overcome them and get on with achieving what you want to achieve. Even if you do not get the results you wanted from the tour, I think that the band grows and develops naturally from the experience of the tour itself. As the band grows, their music grows as well. I think that by meeting the challenges that arise and overcoming all the hurdles then it will have a positive effect on the band and the music we create.
Any final message for those who might come out and see you perform in the UK?
Please check us out on one (or more) of our shows on the Making Fire 2017 Europe Tour. We will be there, giving it everything we have at each show! We love meeting new people so come and say hi and share a drink with us. See you there!
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For more information, you can check out the links below and for those keep to see them in Europe, the dates are included too.
2017 Making Fire Tour Dates
May 11: Undegun (Focus Wales), Wrexham (UK)
May 12: ROC2 Studios (Focus Wales), Wrexham (UK)
May 13: The Pot, Rhyl (UK)
May 15: Prince Albert, Brighton (UK)
May 17: Dublin Castle, London (UK)
May 18: 81 Renshaw, Liverpool (UK)
May 19: Stramash, Edinburgh (UK)
May 21: Westgarth Social Club, Middlesbrough (UK)
May 26: Asylum, Chelmsford (UK)
May 29: West Street Club, Sheffield (UK)
June 2: Bei Ruth, Berlin (Germany)
June 7: Chlodna 25, Warsaw (Poland)
June 9: Seazone Music Conference, Sopot (Poland)
June 10: CKN Centrala, Gorzów (Poland)
June 11: Watch Docs Festival, Słupsk (Poland)
June 16: L’Alimentation Générale, Paris (France)
June 17: Lapin Blanc, Réding (France)
June 19: Fuel Cafe, Manchester (UK)
June 21: White Bear, Barnsley (UK)
June 22: The Exchange, Stoke (UK)
June 23: The Saddle, Chester Live Festival, Chester (UK)
June 24: The North, Rhyl (UK)
June 25: Club 147, Llandudno (UK)
South Korean indie legends Galaxy Express are set to the ram their infectious garage-meets-stadium rock back into Texas this Friday and Saturday for this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival. Performing as part of the K-Pop Night Out showcase and doing a second showcase on their own, Galaxy are gearing up to shred some Texan eardrums.
It’s been nearly three years since the band last played abroad, so SXSW audiences can expect a show fueled by an extra dose of that rock vitality they have enamored fans with around the world.
This award-winning three piece also have other exciting plans in the works, including new music. They released a brand new single on March 11 called “The Way,” and I’d been told they were hoping to record another track each month. The songs will eventually make up their fifth full-length album.
“Yeah, we’re just going to write them as we jam,” explains bassist Juhyun Lee. “We just decided that if we can record like this, and make one song a month, it’d be great.
“Of course the sound will feel different every month. It’s not something we have a clear plan for,” says Juhyun. “We just want to capture the feeling of the moment. So I expect each month the songs will have a different feel to them. Summer will be hot so the summer tracks will likely have a hot feel to them.”
More pressing then their plans to record, the band is excited about getting back Stateside. This will be their fourth time to play SXSW but their first overseas show since 2014 as Juhyun’s 2013 marijuana conviction made international tours more challenging.
But they are more than excited to spread their wings again. I asked them how they felt about heading back this year. Rather than having a grueling tour schedule, they are happy to focus on the SXSW shows only this time, and to check out other acts during the festival.
“Well, we’ve got Korean friends living in Austin so it’s like we’re going to meet family for a celebration,” says guitarist Jonghyun Park. “We get to catch up with friends we haven’t seen in a while.”
“This time we don’t have other shows to perform so we can cruise around and check out the place properly and enjoy SXSW,” says Juhyun. “The whole place is abuzz and the streets are literally filled with music.”
I wondered if there was a major difference between Korean and American audiences, and what excites them about the SXSW audience.
“In the States, there’s always these young guys who come to our shows and bow their heads in front of us,” Jonghyun explains, imitating some thrashing fans up the front of a show.
“One guy explained that when he was an exchange student in Korea, he saw us perform. He came to our SXSW show. When we asked him why he liked us, he explained that it’s because we make so much noise,” adds Juhyun.
“So, we thought, these guys are crazy! But I guess they also think we’re kind of crazy. So it means we go crazy together!” laughs Jonghyun.
“South Korea and the Trump country [USA] are both in a similar situation at the moment,” Jonghyun explains, referring to former President Park Geun-hye when I asked about what it will be like to play in an America under Trump. “We’re all the same at the end of the day.”
“Because of Trump, I’ve heard that there are many angry Americans. If many of those angry people make their way to our show, won’t it be fun?” he adds with a laugh. “We can let off steam together!”
And after the show? Putting aside rumors the guys like to take a dip at the local nude beach, I wondered how they will unwind after another sweat-drenched performance.
Juhyun has it all laid out: “After you’ve had a lot to drink, there’s a rice noodle restaurant where you can cure your hangover and then there’s also a Thai massage joint.”
“It’s been a long time since we played there. I hope those who came to see us last time will make it out. I wonder how it’ll feel to meet those people again,” ponders Jonghyun. “And they could also see us differently, of course.”
While not all of the members are so confident in using English, it doesn’t seem to phase them. They look forward to rubbing shoulders with fans.
“We use body language and just hope we get the right amount of change,” jokes drummer Heekwon Kim.
“Yeah, we communicate with our music,” adds Jonghyun.
Here’s Galaxy Express’ schedule at SXSW:
March 17 Austin, Texas (9:30pm – 10:10pm) @ The Belmont (K-Pop Night Out)
March 18 Austin, Texas (1:00am – 1:40am) @ Barracuda Backyard
Two of Seoul’s finest indie bands, Crying Nut and Galaxy Express, will take to the stage at Strange Fruit in Hongdae tonight (March 5) at 7pm in commemoration of and tribute to their friend and fellow rock lover, Myungshin Ki.
Known for his passionate love of and tireless efforts to promote the “rock spirit” of Hongdae both here and abroad, Myungshin headed indie label Love Rock where he helped to grow and develop some serious talent, including the likes of Galaxy Express, Dead Buttons, Pavlov, Yksi and Victim Mentality. He passed away a year ago, tragically taking his own life, but his spirit lives on in the music halls of Hongdae, the hearts of those he touched, and in the music he helped give life to.
Close friends Galaxy Express shared a few words about what Myungshin means to them and why they are performing in his honor. Bassist Lee Juhyun explains, “It’s been a year and so his friends are going to gather to remember him, so we can meet up and talk about him. We wanted to create this kind of opportunity. Because he had a big network and knew so many people, we decided to gather [like this] and commemorate him.”
“While we have a few drinks and sit around chatting and cursing,” adds drummer Kim Heekwon with a reminiscent smile. Then there’s a pause: “Feels like such a long time. Can’t believe it’s been just a year. He visited me in a dream last night and told me he’s doing well. I still can’t believe he’s gone.”
Vocalist Park Jonghyun adds, “It doesn’t feel like he’s left us. Just feels like he’s gone really far away. Let’s create a great memory together for him!”
Seoul-based rocker Max Reynolds first met Myungshin in 2012 when he brought Galaxy Express to his hometown of Texas. Inspired by the music scene in Seoul that Myungshin had done so much to nurture, Max eventually packed up his life in Texas and moved to Seoul, developing a close friendship with Myungshin. Of his late friend, he relates: “Over the years he really taught me what friendship was all about. He didn’t care where you were from or what you looked like or what kind of music you played. He wanted to include everyone. I try to be more like him every day.”
Strange Fruit opens at 7pm and tickets are 20,000 won at the door. It is likely that tickets will sell out fast.
It’s dark, grungy, soaring post-rock fun! Korea’s Jambinai and Japan’s Mono will be teaming up for a big show on Jan. 21 at Platform 61, the new creative venue that recently opening in Chang-dong, Dobong-gu.
Both groups have enjoyed very strong reviews and ratings for their most recent releases from a whole bunch of music websites, like Allmusic (Jambinai and Mono). So having these two hot groups together on one bill should be a lot of fun.
Ssako, Jambinai’s manager, wrote to the KGG to say that he was concerned the online ticketing could be tricky for non-Korean speakers hoping to check out the show, so he is suggesting an alternative.
Just email email@example.com, and leave your name and the number of tickets you want. Then on the day of the show, you can pick up your tickets at the Platform 61 box office for the same price as the advanced sales, just 66,000 won (at the door, they will be 77,000 won). You can pay by cash or credit card.
Platform 61 is located close to Changdong Station, on subway line No. 4, in northeast Seoul.
To get a sense of the noisy glory that is Mono, here is the music video for their “Requiem for Hell”:
I Wear* Experiment are bringing their dance beat-fueled electro pop back to South Korea this weekend. Having played Zandari Festa 2016, the Estonian trio are performing sets of their self-described “sex, darkness and synths”-driven sound in Seoul on Friday and in Busan on Saturday.
I Wear* Experiment have made quite a name for themselves in recent years, performing across Europe with a number of major acts, getting picked up for a film soundtrack, and making it into the top 10 of Eesti Laul, Estonia’s national song contest for Eurovision. Their show packs cinematic soundscapes into a visual experience that you won’t want to miss. Korea Gig Guide got to interview the band ahead of their Korean shows.
How does one wear an experiment?
It means standing by your beliefs and truths without compromise which is an experiment in itself because it always leads to new and exciting experiences. We feel that in a lot of areas and especially in music it is becoming more and more rare for artists having the courage to wear and express their true colors without succumbing to the pressure of being likeable.
Tell us about releasing your first full-length album Patience last year and how your sound has developed since 2012.
As it is our first full-length release we really took the time and put in effort like we had never done before. It was also a first time we worked together with a producer. It was a very big learning experience and in the wind of that we are already working on the next release.
Our sound has become more electronic and we have learned how to “melt” the different sounds together. With Patience our aim was to leave no stones unturned and try to create the best possible sounding album we could. Through trial and error we learned a lot and now while creating new songs I feel we can improvise and experiment even more.
What’s the indie scene like in Estonia?
It is very strong and getting stronger by the year. The last two decades have been great for the indie scene. The shift has been from singing in Estonian to more and more artists turning to English and a more polished and mainstream sound influenced by Brit pop and shoe gaze. You should definitely check out Vaiko Eplik, The Boondocks, Röövel Ööbik, Junk Riot, Levski and Ans. Andur. The recent years have seen a revival in the influences of funk and electro.
I Wear* Experiment performing the title track from their 2016 album Patience for the Eesti Laul song contest.
What was it like performing at Zandari Festa 2016?
It was very cool! We could feel the vibe of Seoul in the festival, which made it special. The first show we played at Zandari was at club Steel Face at noon. We had never played a show this early and we were a bit worried, but the place was packed and people reacted to our music, which is always great. The second show in club Veloso was in the same spirit, people reacted straight away and we had a good energy exchange with the crowd.
Are you excited to be heading back to Korea?
We are very super excited. We all, including the sometimes grumpy technicians, fell in love with the city, the people, the food and soju. When leaving the hotel after the last night of the festival, several of us had tears of sadness for having to leave combined with tears of happiness of how overwhelmingly great time we had had.
What can audiences expect at your upcoming shows?
We always give as much energy and emotion from the stage as possible. We have our excellent crew with us who are the best in Estonia, so we are bringing our full production.
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I Wear* Experiment play Club Freebird in Seoul on Friday, Jan. 6, and will be supported by Silica Gel, Asian Chairshot and DTSQ. They also play Vinyl Underground in Busan on Saturday, Jan. 7, with support from Leaves Black, 3 Volt and 57. You can pick up advance tickets here for the Seoul show here and the Busan show here.
Rise Again 4 — a great night of Korean reggae, ska and dance hall — is here this Saturday (Dec. 17). Now in its fourth year, this annual festival looks stronger than ever, with some new faces and familiar acts joining together for a great lineup.
Club Freebird in Hongdae hosts Rise Again, with a lineup that includes Kim Ban Jang & Windy City, Kingston Rudieska, Rude Paper, NST & the Soul Sauce, Orixa, Cool Running, Tehiun, and Oriental Showcus. They will be joined by dancers Ms. Friday, Saas, & Z. Sun. Also, great music will be provided by deejays/selectas In the Earth, Eastern Standard Sounds and East Jamrock — plus, all the way from Japan, Hayassen of Totalize.
Doors open at 7pm. Tickets cost 25,000 won ahead of time or 30,000 at the door.
If you haven’t had the chance to check it out yet, today (October 14) is the final day of the “Legacy of Reggae History ‘Rico Rodriguez’ Photo Exhibition” in Seoul. The exhibition features images by Koichi Hanfusa, an extremely talented music journalist, all-around awesome guy, and a person whose friendship has had a huge impact on my life. To say that my life would be very, very different had I never met Koichi is a major understatement.
Koichi lives in Tokyo but is in Seoul this week to share his photos of the legendary Rodriguez at Gold Star in Hongdae. His first exhibition happened at the end of last year in Tokyo, and this year has seen him take it to several places throughout Japan. His Korean exhibition started on Wednesday – and the opening party featured performances from Kingston Rudieska and NST &The Soul Sauce – and runs today from 5 pm until midnight. The exhibition is free to attend, so do your best to stop by, see some great images, learn about a fantastic musician, and chat with an acclaimed journalist while you’re out in Hongdae tonight.
A pioneering trombonist, Rodriguez passed away last year at the age of 80. During his storied career, he played trombone for a number of musical greats including The Specials and released music on his own as well. In 2007, he was appointed MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for his services to the British music industry. And in 2012, he was awarded the Silver Musgrave Medal in recognition of his many contributions to Jamaican music.
Koichi answered some questions for us about his relationship with Rodriguez and his photo exhibition at Gold Star.
How did the idea for your Rico Rodriguez photo exhibition come about?
I visited Rico on June 22 last year and asked him to come to Japan for a tribute show for him. I knew he might not be capable of playing trombone at that stage, but I wanted to do something to thank him for his influence on the ska scene in Japan. If there was a chance, I wanted to do a photo exhibition of Rico along with it. When I got back to Japan, I spoke with a promoter who has been organizing Rico’s Japan tours for a long time about the idea. He said he was thinking the same thing and had already booked a venue for the end of the year. About two months after that, I heard the sad news of Rico passing away. I didn’t want to do anything but mourn for 49 days, which is a very Japanese thing to do. While I was in mourning, I started thinking of starting my personal tribute to this amazing talent of Jamaican music by organizing a photo exhibition mainly featuring the photos I shot for his “Wonderful World” album and some shots I had taken during his tours in Japan. It was like a promise I made with Rico and I was talking to him.
When were the photos in your exhibition taken?
I’m not a photographer. I’m a music photo journalist who takes photos needed to make articles with. I’ve been taking photos for a long time at gigs, but up until the time of Rico’s “Wonderful World” album, I had never done a studio session.
I had heard that Rico was recording an album for himself and I had a meeting with him in London and suggested he record a vocal track of “Wonderful World” along with some covers like “Over the Rainbow,” “Stardust Melody,” and “Work Song.” I was not expecting him to do them all, but he did. Later, I interviewed him while he was making the album. I asked him if he recorded those tracks and he replied yes. But at that stage he hadn’t add vocals to “Wonderful World” so I begged him to do so.
When I heard the completed recording, it made me happy to discover he recorded his vocals on that track and I heard he really enjoyed doing it from one of the guys involved in the project. Then I had the idea for the album’s photos. I imagined him smiling in a formal suit with a trombone. Japan was going to be the first place to release the album, so I approached the record label and asked them to let me take the photos. Luckily they said yes, and I was set to shoot my first ever proper studio session. This was in 1995, I think. Rico didn’t like smiling portraits and there had never been any shots of him smiling if you check his promo images or album covers. But I wanted Rico’s smile, and I did the best I could during the session to get lovely smiles from him. Afterwards, he said “You made me happy and I love it.”
The session took a place in London. I rented the studio from 1 pm – 6 pm, but Rico was really late arriving as he had a problem. The actual session started around 4 or 5 pm. The shooting was done in almost an hour and I got 800 pictures from it.
When did you first meet Rico? What are some of the qualities you loved best about him as a person?
I first spoke to him in 1991 at a Bad Manners show in Japan. He was a member of the horn section. The supporting act for the show was The Ska Flames. He was standing at the side of the stage listening to the band and was smiling and saying, “Closing my eyes, I hear the Skatalites.” I asked him if he wanted to play with the band and he said yes. But the guys were already playing and there was no way to communicate with them. I was trying to send a message with hand gestures and while doing that, Rico started wailing away and then made a surprise guest appearance and a great jam session was born.
He was a teacher to younger musicians. When a band played with him, everyone in the group learned how to play. He didn’t just show them what to do through rehearsals. He taught them that you have to respond with your musical instrument and improvise. Musicianship was the most important thing to him. Not only to play good, but to play good with spirit.
What made you want to bring your exhibition to Seoul?
It was nice to find out about NST &The Soul Sauce and how they made a tribute to Rico and his music. We didn’t talk a lot, but by sharing a love for Rico through music, we had no problem communicating. I just gave them an idea – if you love Rico, why not bring my photos to Seoul and celebrate his life with my photos and your music? I always want to share some time with those loving his music and I feel like this is my mission to talk about Rico and let people know about his music. His music can add something to your life if you really listen to it.
Aside from seeing the photos at Gold Star, will you have stories to share during the exhibition with everyone who visits about the pictures, your friendship with Rico, and his music?
Yes, definitely. I’m ready to share all of the stories of me and Rico and tell about the “Wonderful World” album. After that album was released, Rico told me “You are my producer. That album was a turning point of my career.” After that recording, whenever he played, his vocals on that song became the highlight of the show. But to get back to the question, I am ready to give all I have. If you know the things behind the music, the music sounds even better and takes on much greater meaning.
Once again I urge everyone to take this opportunity to go out and meet Koichi. He’s a fascinating person to speak with. If you love music, having a drink together while talking about music and learning about Rodriguez will be a definite high point of your night.
“Legacy of Reggae History ‘Rico Rodriguez’ Photo Exhibition” finishes today at Gold Star in Hongdae. The event runs from 5 pm until 12 am (midnight) and is free. For more information, check out the Facebook event page here.
“Things what may happen on your planet” is the first full-length offering from enigmatic Seoul trio Guten Birds and is sure to delight new and old fans alike. Each track on the record is tight with driving rhythms, complex layers of guitars, and just the right blend of Mohho’s hauntingly moving vocals. Seo Hyeon drives the bass lines as Mui, one of my top five drummers on the planet, merges a kit into the music like no other. Guten Birds are often described as melodic grunge, and asa child of the grunge era, I can certainly understand the reference. However, with this record, Guten Birds have defined their unique sound on an entirely new level.
The building instrumentals in opener “어디선가 어딘가에서” seduce your ears while simultaneously creating a drive that follows in many ways throughout the album. The vocals come home in the next song, “가나다 별곡,” as the pace quickens. This track, along with “밤신호,” seem to show a new direction for the band, and it is done so well that it is hard to believe this is actually their first full release. Having only had the album for about a week, my Korean isn’t strong enough to truly understand everything on these cuts, but Mohho’s voice still carries that power and urgency I’m so familiar with and both tracks inspire me as a painting I don’t need to understand does.
The first half of the album contains three instrumental songs, while the second half begins with an eight-and-a-half minute English track which may remind listeners of things we’ve left behind, for better or worse. The music on this song, “Sailing Out,” approaches the psychadelic, though to me, it’s without a specific genre as it builds from a soft haunting din into an aggressive yet rhythmic rock offering. The vocals continue to play a major role throughout the album’s back half, most notably on “킬빌 혹은 우울한 달,” a darker song featuring little more than light guitars and melancholy voicing. I’m hard pressed to choose a favorite amongst the 10 gems presented, but this track along with “Rolling in the Air” will certainly forever remain on my short list. But all 10 are perfect. Trust me.
The recording was done at Tomato Studio and they have done some amazing work on this album as every aspect of each song comes shining through in impeccable sound. Find a good seat, some great headphones and immerse yourself in “Things what may happen on your planet” as you would in a gallery or poetry reading while the songs carry you on a journey of happiness, sadness, love, loss, emptiness and more.
Pick up your copy of one of the best records of the year at the special release showcase Friday October 14th at Works Hall in Hongdae. A must-have album and a must-see show. Friday’s release gig starts at 8 pm and tickets are 25,000 won at the door. For more information, check out the Facebook event page here.