South Korean trio Jambinai sound less like a band than a force of nature, fusing the full dramatic range of post-rock dynamics to Korean folk roots to create an exhilarating, vivid and unique fusion. Hermitage, the band’s second album and first for Bella Union, was recorded in the South Korean capital Seoul and will be released 17th June. The first track to be revealed from the album is “They Keep Silence” which is streaming HERE. Additionally, following their two performances at SXSW this week, Jambinai have announced a London headline show at Corsica Studios as well as an appearance at The Great Escape in Brighton, the details of which will follow soon. Upcoming UK live info below:
Monday 16th May – LONDON – Corsica Studios
Saturday 21st May – BRIGHTON – The Great Escape
Jambinai’s instrumental music is coloured by Bomi Kim’s fiddle-like haegum, Ilwoo Lee’s guitar and piri (a Korean flute made of bamboo) and Eun Youg Sim’s geomungo, a Korean zither. They met studying traditional music at Korea’s National University of Arts, and found they were united by a desire to present such music in a new way, “to communicate with the ordinary person who doesn’t listen to Korean traditional music,” says Lee, the band’s principal writer. This makeover, however, eschews previous Korean modernists, who Lee says have used western classical music or jazz, for a molten fusion of metal, rock and experimental sound. “We’re darker than other Korean traditional bands,” Lee adds, with considerable understatement.
Understandably, Jambinai have shocked Korean audiences unused to the kind of intensity and adventurism that the trio have made their own. Yet their debut album Différance won Best Crossover Album at the 2013 Korean Music Awards (they were also nominated for Best Jazz & Crossover Performance), which the band used as a springboard for several overseas tours, as a quintet with Jihoon Ok (bass) and Jae Hyuk Choi (drums). Reviewing Jambinai at London’s K-Music festival in 2015, The Guardian described the band as “thrilling, unexpected and perfectly controlled,” noting their mixture of “atmospheric pieces with bursts of furious energy, with constant changes of mood and volume.”
The inspiration for Jambinai’s music taps into the feelings of anger and isolation felt by a younger generation suspicious of the conservative forces that seek to control them. ‘Deus Benedicat Tibi’, for example, was inspired by the ‘Dae Chui Ta’, a piece of Korean traditional martial music “written for the king when he marches down the street,” Lee explains. “Nowadays, especially in Korea, many give up their dreams because life gets worse every day. We have the world’s highest suicide rate. Our song expresses a person who overcomes all hardship and suffering. I dedicate this song to the people who live in pain, to say, ‘You are the king in your own life’.”
Music this rousing and beautiful, rising and subsiding in epic fashion, will doubtless trigger a flood of intense or even apocalyptic images. Yet Jambinai also represent a positive force, resisting the old ways and reinventing the future.
Hermitage will be released 17th June on Bella Union. Album artwork, tracklisting and new photo below:
Echo Of Creation
For Everything That You Lost
Deus Benedicat Tini
They Keep Silence
HAPPY RELEASE DAY, EMMA!
Lots of love from Bella Union.
There is a distinct nod to her debut First Love, in terms of the storytelling that first impressed her lyrical and emotional dexterity upon so many. But on Second Love, Emma-Lee Moss delves into the chambers of a human heart ever-connected to the glare of a nearby screen. This is an album imbued with modern sounds, a nod to new eras, while maintaining the human warmth always associated with an ETG album. The songs are full of emotion and questioning, with the chatter of friends and collaborators ‘coded’ into the sonic landscape.
Opener ‘Swimming Pool’ – taken from this year’s critically acclaimed S EP – set the tone. Sketched out in Asian cities during a tour, and competed in a North London studio in the summer of 2012, its undulating grace became a sound Emma spent “three years trying to chase.” These tender, glacial arrangements lead Second Love’s exploration through a new world, filtered through technology.
“For a long time, I thought the album would be about technology and the future, so I wrote a lot of songs ‘about’ stuff – like ‘Swimming Pool’ or ‘Solar Panels’ or about the magazines in ‘Hyperlink’,” says Emma. “But this didn’t feel right. It was only when I started using these things to write about love that everything came together.”
Like ‘Dance with. Me’, a somber and sensitive ode to the complexities of love – “You can’t exist without fighting me. Oh, I respect my enemy,” Emmy sings, backed by the sampled voices of her LA housemates, while producer Dave McCracken, and musician friends Beth Jeans Houghton and O Karmina talk in the background.
Despite recording in tiny snatches, burrowing herself away in friend’s bedrooms, borrowed studios and hotel rooms – “If I had to write down the locations of every recording session the credits would have around 30 people’s houses in it”, says Emma – Second Love remains a resolute whole, a delicate balance of songs and sounds that mirror the personal discoveries she made while making the album.
“In 2013, in LA, I was optimistic about the world changing and rapidly advancing, but over time the optimism gave way to something more complex and fearful. Technology and ideas which seemed entirely positive now feel equally as dangerous,” Emma muses.
Emma’s own life path – a move from London to Los Angeles then to New York – brought new perspectives. “Each time I was introduced to a new city, I got really quiet and observant. I’d be on a rooftop or in some weird LA backyard party, and someone would tell me something, and that sense of spontaneous connection would find its way into a song later.” While trying to raise money for Second Love, Emma worked as a journalist, interviewing artists like King Krule, Dam Funk, Caroline Polachek, and Kele Okerere, and writing about culture for the Guardian and Vice – experiences which lent a new openness to her music.
“I’ve always felt that records are supposed to be ‘records’ of your life when you made them,” she continues. “The entire album from ‘Swimming Pool’ to the final mix took around three years, and in this time my life progressed in previously unimaginable ways. I lived in three cities, I was single, I fell in love, made friends, new life came into my family and I found out what it is to be a stranger and to begin again.”
With fitting synchronicity, Emma progressed from writing and recording guitar and vocals to programming and engineering. Advances in sound are balanced against classic songwriting, with each song’s core left to breathe amidst a glistening whirr of spiraling layers of sound and voices.
Acoustic guitars step into harmonies like dappled sunlight on ‘Algorithm’, distant sirens flicker and synthesizers echo as we fall into love-struck bio-mechanic balladry. “It’s about searching for meaning in the noise,” says Emma, “It encapsulates the feeling behind the whole album.”
Elsewhere, the sadness swept through ‘Constantly’ bubbles with minimal grace before gliding into a crystalline chorus, as bright as the laptop screen that lights a depressed friend’s eyes. “Your iris is a universe, your laptop it is glowing, and you say, this world comes in waves, constantly,” she sings.
“Constantly is inspired by Doretta Lau’s book collection about Millennials trying to make it in big cities, and partly by my own experience of trying to find my place in New York,” says Emma. “I was thinking of these glittering cities, alive with their own myths, and all of us scrabbling around trying to reach for them. I don’t need to tell you that the world can be a fucked up and scary place, especially for young people who are living in the future while trying to figure out if they have a future of their own.” How the future connects us, be it a constant reminder of our own mortality or a provocative and powerful celebration of human endurance, is at the core of Emmy The Great’s ‘Second Love.’
“In all the uncertainty,” Emmy concludes, “I couldn’t say for sure whether this is Utopia or Dystopia or something in between, but for some reason it only made me more certain of one thing: that, wherever we’re heading, we’re going to need music, and we’re going to need love. Second Love not only helped me reach this conclusion, it led me to almost every good thing that has happened to me in the last three years.”
The roll call of talent enlisted to assist Emmy The Great’s new albums is as impressive as the vision itself. Produced by Dave McCracken (Oh Land/ Beyonce) & Ludwig Goransson (Haim/ Childish Gambino), and mixed by Neil Comber (MIA), the album features musicians from far and wide, including Tom Fleming (Wild Beasts), Leo Abrahams (Pulp/ Brian Eno), Simon Oscroft (MXTHER), Henry Kwapis, O Karmina, Du Blonde (aka Beth Jeans Houghton), Nick Trepka (Speech Debelle), Fyfe Dangerfield (Guillemots), Gabriel Bruce, and her brother Robin Moss, with writer and broadcaster Jon Ronson authoring the album’s liner notes.