Music Reviews

Artist: Park Jiha
Title: Communion
Format: LP
Label: Glitterbeat / tak:til
For her first solo album after some success as part of the duo [su:m], Park Jiha brings her classical training in traditional Korean instruments like the oboe-esque piri and the mouth organ-like saenghwang into strictly modern and avant garde compositions and arrangements. Some of the instrumentation is so unusual-sounding that it’s natural to assume it’s synthetic, but apparently it’s all authentic, albeit very far removed from what may traditionally have been intended.

Initially these arrangements are generally bold, featuring relatively few layers of instrumentation and with a predilection towards loud, strong tones that give everything a purity and clarity that’s generally very strong. Opening track “Throughout The Night” is underpinned by some urban atmospheric noises, but pieces like “Accumulation Of Time” live in their own independent and reverberant space that gradually builds from solo performance through to near-cacophony.

The second half is more plaintive generally. “Sounds Heard From The Moon” is a more conventional piece that may (pardon my ignorance) be performed on the yanggeum (hammered dulcimer), and pairs well with the introspective “The Longing Of The Yawning Divide”. “All Souls’ Day” is a little quirkier in tone, while the saxophone (?) on last track “The First Time I Sat Across From You” has more than a shade of lost-love jazz about it.

The first half of this album is vigorous and energetic, attention-seeking performance that brings something genuinely fresh to modern classical, and while the second half isn’t quite as notable, it’s still a very strong package that ought to bring Park some new attention.

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