Jambinai Announce Apparition EP

JAMBINAI today announce the release of Apparition, a new 4-track EP, out 11th November via Bella Union and available to preorder here. To celebrate the announcement the band have shared an intense live performance video for “Once More From That Frozen Bottom”, the EP’s incendiary opening track, filmed last winter at the ARTE museum in Yeosu. Additionally, JAMBINAI have been announced as one of the headline acts at the Portals Festival at EartH in Hackney on 27th May 2023.

For JAMBINAI, South Korea’s maestros of intense folk-infused post-rock, it has been the best of times and the worst of times since the release of their third album ONDA in 2019. 

In February 2020, the quintet won Best Rock Album for ONDA and Best Rock Song for the title track at South Korea’s Music Awards, but then came the pandemic. The quintet’s brilliant new four-track EP Apparition captures the depth and range of emotions that JAMBINAI have felt these last few years, from anxious lockdowns and thwarted plans to the thrill of renewed creativity, hunger and hope. 

As co-founder and band spokesman Lee Il-woo recalls, “After ONDA we saw 2020 as a new opportunity to work on a bigger stage. I personally wanted to release a new album and tour to exhaust the energy of ONDAand find new inspiration, but it didn’t work out that way. We didn’t find enough energy to make a full album yet, so for now we are releasing four songs.”

The title Apparition stems from Lee’s perception of the band he has steered since 2011. “JAMBINAI have been making intense music for an intense group of devotees in invisible places,” he says. “Overall, I have tried to express a message of comfort to everyone living in a difficult time due to the pandemic and what’s going on in the world.”

Lee’s projection of comfort starkly contrasts with the energy force that carries it: a unique combination of primary rock colour (electric guitar, bass, drums) and Korean folk instruments: the piri (bamboo oboe), the yanggeum (hammered dulcimer), geomungo (zither) and saenghwang (reed mouth organ). 

Apparition’s four song titles alone nail the otherworldly sensations that define the JAMBINAI experience. Lead track ‘Once More From That Frozen Bottom’ instantly conjures up a landscape that feels volcanic as well as icy. At other times, JAMBINAI  employ the slow burn, establishing a mood of serenity before the volume blasts upward and the atmosphere turns supremely dark, such as ‘Until My Wings Turn To Ashes’ and a live version of ‘Candlelight In Colossal Darkness’ which closes the EP with a sense of reflection and acceptance.

That leaves ‘From The Place Been Erased’, featuring the guest vocals of K Pop legend swja (also known as sunwoojunga, well known for working with 2NE1, Black Pink, and BTS). “I thought swja’s voice would go well with our music,” says Lee, “so I asked her for help. I am honoured that she willingly participated. Despite our heavy and strong sound, she understood its inner emotions.”

Apparition proves that JAMBINAI are not just alive and kicking, but more energised than ever, making up for lost time and momentum. Playing the 2018 Winter Olympic Games closing ceremony in their home city of Seoul had set up the forward momentum that produced ONDA. The South Korean awards similarly upped the ante for the follow-up. Though JAMBINAI also won the Asia category at global music bible Songlines’ annual awards at the end of 2020, only the thrill and thrust of new music and performance would truly count. First, money reserved for airfares for a cancelled tour in 2020 was used to film online performances for the digital TV channel Audiotree. Then in the spring of 2021, JAMBINAI played at the ‘virtual’ SXSW festival, from which the performance video for the aptly named ‘Time Of Extinction’ was taken, followed by a show for the Tiny Desk (home) Concert series. 

By the end of 2021, JAMBINAI were finally recording what became Apparition, but they didn’t stop there. Through April 2022, the band released four acoustic performances. There was even a collaboration with Soojung Baek’s boutique Craft Codes, combining two of her scents, “that seemed to match our music the best,” says Lee.

The urge to create has only driven JAMBINA’s members further on. In September, Lee will be working as a concert master of the traditional Gyeonggi Sinawi Orchestra for performances in Poland, Hungary, Austria, Slovenia and the Czech Republic then collaborating with hardcore rock trio PAKK at London’s annual K-Music Festival in October. He also wrote the music for the first series of the BBC’s Korean-set crime podcast “The Lazarus Heist”. 

JAMBINAI other two co-founders have been busy too. Kim Bomi and Sim Eunyong co-wrote the music for a modern art piece in South Korea’s National Museum of Contemporary and Modern Arts; having released a solo album at the end of 2019, Sim wrote and performed the music for a piece by choreographer Jinyeob Cha in June 2022. Kim also currently DJs for a Korean traditional music radio broadcast.

The three members, with JAMBINAI drummer Jaehyuk Choi and bassist B.K Yu, will join forces for a tour starting in May 2023, and “when there’s an empty space, I want to make a new album,” Lee confirms. Not being able to celebrate the band’s tenth anniversary in 2021, “was a very disappointing moment,” he says. “But it’s okay. We will release more albums and become a better band until the 20th anniversary show.”

Apparition tracklist below…

1. Once More From That Frozen Bottom

2. From The Place Been Erased (featuring swja)

3. Until My Wings Turn To Ashes

4. Candlelight In Colossal Darkness

Happy Release Day Jambinai

Today, South Korean experimental band Jambinai release their epic new album ONDA, an album which showcases their extra-ordinary fusion of metal, post-rock and noise.

When the three founders of Jambinai decided to, “communicate with the ordinary person who doesn’t listen to Korean traditional music,” few outsiders anticipated an extra-ordinary fusion with metal, post-rock and noise.  “Most people expect Asian traditional music to make something smooth for yoga or meditation,” says band spokesman Lee Il-woo. “We wanted to break all of that.”

Even fewer would have predicted that the likes of Jambinai would play the 2018 Winter Olympic Games closing ceremony in the city of Pyeongchang, accompanied by a troupe of geomungo (Korean zither) players – an audio-visual spectacle that such an occasion demanded. 

Says Lee, “Onda means ‘come’ in Korean. The title track has the lyric, ‘At the end of your darkness, pain will turn into the shining stars and it’s going to come to you.’ I want to cheer people up when they hear that track. Onda also means ‘wave’ in Spanish, and I also want to say the third big wave of Jambinai is coming!”

The first big wave arrived in 2010 after traditional music students Lee (guitar and piri, a bamboo oboe), Kim Bo-mi (the bow-stringed haegum) and Sim Eun-young (geomungo) joined forces and released the Jambinai EP. The trio’s debut album Différance won Best Crossover Album at the 2013 Korean Music Awards, triggering several overseas tours and the second wave of Jambinai – an international deal with Bella Union and a second album, A Hermitage. At the time, Lee cited the influence of bands like Metallica, Mogwai and Sigur Rös, but such was the trio’s energy levels, they seemed to draw more on thunderstorms, tidal waves, volcanic eruptions, blizzards and desert winds – a force of nature more than a band.

It’s hard to believe but ONDA is even more dynamic and rhythmic, with the permanent addition of Jaehyuk Choi (drums) and B.K Yu (bass), fixtures of Jambinai’s live band since 2017. The way the quintet “sticks together like gears of a clock or machine,” says Lee, is celebrated on ‘Square Wave’, a breathtaking example of Jambinai’s ability to alternate between ambient serenity and molten ferocity. 

‘Square Wave’ is also one of several ONDA cuts to feature vocals. “Voice and lyrics have strong energy, they can touch someone’s heart directly more than instruments,” Lee explains. “Also, most people don’t know Korean, so they hear our voices as sound rather than meaning. We needed more sounds on this album.”

Not that the instrumental tracks are any less momentous. Take the opening ‘Sawtooth’ (featuring Hwiseon Choi on yanggeum, a hammered dulcimer), because Lee thinks the band’s constantly shifting dynamic, “resembles the sawtooth waveform of electronic sound.”  

13 minutes long, ‘In The Woods’ is the album’s lengthiest epic, originally recorded for Jambiani’s 2010 EP and now rearranged for the expanded quintet, plus guest traditional singer Bora Kim.  The inspiration here is environmental pollution, soundtracked by eight minutes of mournful ambience that slowly builds to a shattering climax. “The earth is in serious pain,” Lee concludes.

ONDA ends on a thematic note of drama and redemption. In ‘Small Consolation’, says Lee, “a person leads their weary body to a distant glow, which is small consolation. But when they get there, it turns into a big light, big consolation and happiness.” The closing title track comes in two parts: a calm prelude (featuring Lee on saenghwang, a tall reed mouth organ) before the euphoric main course, graced by choral grandeur. Once the music dies away, the feeling is one of blissful exhaustion. 

Says Lee: “After Jambinai’s US tour of 2017, I travelled the country for a month. I was worried about my future and the music because I had quit my job for the band but we didn’t have much money and the tour was tough and tiring for everyone. But when I visited the Grand Canyon, Mother Nature cheered me up and it was felt like she was telling me, “you are doing really well. Back in Korea, I wrote more songs with confidence and happiness.” The third wave of Jambinai is here…

Jambinai share ‘Sun.Tears.Red’

With the release of their new album ONDA less than two weeks away, Jambinai have debuted yet another enthralling single, titled ‘Sun.Tears.Red’, showcasing their extra-ordinary fusion of metal, post-rock and noise. Of the track, band spokesperson Lee Il-woo explains that, “Most people expect Asian traditional music to make something smooth for yoga or meditation. We wanted to break all of that.”

Early acclaim for Jambinai’s upcoming new album ONDA

“A triumph… Countless bands can switch from quiet to loud effectively; few do it with such overwhelming power as Jambinai.” MOJO – 4 stars ****

“Fusing traditional Korean music with post–rock, ONDA is their heaviest yet… ’Sawtooth’ starts as an ambient wash of dulcimers and oboes that mutates into a piece of grindcore, while ‘Sun.Tears.Red’ is a riot of overlapping zithers and post–punk beats… Clever and thrilling in equal measure.” Uncut – 8/10

“With soaring melody lines, ONDA is a seismic return… Especially striking is Sun Tears Red. Culminating in a cascade of bittersweet, melancholy arpeggios, wailing haegeum, pounding geomungo and screaming vocals that wash over like ocean waves, it’s one of Jambinai’s most emotive tracks to date.” Record Collector – 4 stars ****

Jambinai have announced a number of international festival appearances and headline shows, with further dates to be added soon. Tour dates + ONDA album artwork below:

31st May – Hilvarenbeek – Best Kept Secret Festival

5th June – Brussels – AB Club

6th June – London – The Garage

7th June – Porto – NOS Primavera Sound Festival

5th July – Belfort – Eurokeennes De Belfort

13th July – Monts – Festival Terres du Son

8th – 10th August – Incheon – Pentaport Rock Festival

20th September – Clonakity – Clonakilty

22nd September – Monthey – Route Du Pont Rouge

24th September – Quasimodo – Berlin

25th September – Dresden – Beatpol

26th September – Prague – Palac Akropolis

27th September – Linz – Stadtwekstratt

28th September – Kulfstein – Kultur Quartier Kulfstein

2nd October – Brighton – Green Door Store

4th October – Canterbury – University of Kent

6th October – Manchester – The Night People

7th October – Leeds – Lending Room

8th October – Birmingham – The Flapper

10th October – Arnhem – Luxor Live

11th October – Tilburg – 013

12th October – Rotterdam – Grounds

13th October – Utrecht – De Helling

16th October – Gronigen – Vera

Jambinai share two new tracks from ONDA

Having recently announced news of their upcoming album ONDA and fresh off the back of their weekend performance at Coachella music festival, Jambinai have debuted two new singles titled ‘작은 위로가 있는 곳에(Small Consolation)’ + the album’s title track ‘온다(ONDA)’. The South Korean band have also shared a breathtaking performance video of ‘작은 위로가 있는 곳에(Small Consolation)’ which gives fans a taste of what is to be expected from their 2019 tour. 

When the three founders of Jambinai decided to, “communicate with the ordinary person who doesn’t listen to Korean traditional music,” few outsiders anticipated an extra-ordinary fusion with metal, post-rock and noise.  “Most people expect Asian traditional music to make something smooth for yoga or meditation,” says band spokesman Lee Il-woo. “We wanted to break all of that.”

Even fewer would have predicted that the likes of Jambinai would play the 2018 Winter Olympic Games closing ceremony in the city of Pyeongchang, accompanied by a troupe of geomungo (Korean zither) players – an audio-visual spectacle that such an occasion demanded. Click HERE to watch. 

Says Lee, “Onda means ‘come’ in Korean. The title track has the lyric, ‘At the end of your darkness, pain will turn into the shining stars and it’s going to come to you.’ I want to cheer people up when they hear that track. Onda also means ‘wave’ in Spanish, and I also want to say the third big wave of Jambinai is coming!”

The first big wave arrived in 2010 after traditional music students Lee (guitar and piri, a bamboo oboe), Kim Bo-mi (the bow-stringed haegum) and Sim Eun-young (geomungo) joined forces and released the Jambinai EP. The trio’s debut album Différance won Best Crossover Album at the 2013 Korean Music Awards, triggering several overseas tours and the second wave of Jambinai – an international deal with Bella Union and a second album, A Hermitage. At the time, Lee cited the influence of bands like Metallica, Mogwai and Sigur Rös, but such was the trio’s energy levels, they seemed to draw more on thunderstorms, tidal waves, volcanic eruptions, blizzards and desert winds – a force of nature more than a band.

It’s hard to believe but ONDA is even more dynamic and rhythmic, with the permanent addition of Jaehyuk Choi (drums) and B.K Yu (bass), fixtures of Jambinai’s live band since 2017. The way the quintet “sticks together like gears of a clock or machine,” says Lee, is celebrated on ‘Square Wave’, a breathtaking example of Jambinai’s ability to alternate between ambient serenity and molten ferocity. 

‘Square Wave’ is also one of several ONDA cuts to feature vocals. “Voice and lyrics have strong energy, they can touch someone’s heart directly more than instruments,” Lee explains. “Also, most people don’t know Korean, so they hear our voices as sound rather than meaning. We needed more sounds on this album.”

Not that the instrumental tracks are any less momentous. Take the opening ‘Sawtooth’ (featuring Hwiseon Choi on yanggeum, a hammered dulcimer), because Lee thinks the band’s constantly shifting dynamic, “resembles the sawtooth waveform of electronic sound.”  

13 minutes long, ‘In The Woods’ is the album’s lengthiest epic, originally recorded for Jambiani’s 2010 EP and now rearranged for the expanded quintet, plus guest traditional singer Bora Kim.  The inspiration here is environmental pollution, soundtracked by eight minutes of mournful ambience that slowly builds to a shattering climax. “The earth is in serious pain,” Lee concludes.

ONDA ends on a thematic note of drama and redemption. In ‘Small Consolation’, says Lee, “a person leads their weary body to a distant glow, which is small consolation. But when they get there, it turns into a big light, big consolation and happiness.” The closing title track comes in two parts: a calm prelude (featuring Lee on saenghwang, a tall reed mouth organ) before the euphoric main course, graced by choral grandeur. Once the music dies away, the feeling is one of blissful exhaustion. 

Says Lee: “After Jambinai’s US tour of 2017, I travelled the country for a month. I was worried about my future and the music because I had quit my job for the band but we didn’t have much money and the tour was tough and tiring for everyone. But when I visited the Grand Canyon, Mother Nature cheered me up and it was felt like she was telling me, “you are doing really well. Back in Korea, I wrote more songs with confidence and happiness.” The third wave of Jambinai is here….

Jambinai have announced a number of international festival appearances and headline shows, with more dates to be added soon.

Jambinai announce ONDA

Following their recent epic performance at SXSW in Austin, Texas, Jambinai have today announced their new album ONDA, released 7th June via Bella Union and available to preorder here. The band have shared the album’s opening track “Sawtooth”, which you can watch below, and announced a run of international tour dates which can be found here.

When the three founders of Jambinai decided to, “communicate with the ordinary person who doesn’t listen to Korean traditional music,” few outsiders anticipated an extra-ordinary fusion with metal, post-rock and noise.  “Most people expect Asian traditional music to make something smooth for yoga or meditation,” says band spokesman Lee Il-woo. “We wanted to break all of that.”

Even fewer would have predicted that the likes of Jambinai would play the 2018 Winter Olympic Games closing ceremony in the city of Pyeongchang, accompanied by a troupe of geomungo (Korean zither) players – an audio-visual spectacle that such an occasion demanded. 

Says Lee, “Onda means ‘come’ in Korean. The title track has the lyric, ‘At the end of your darkness, pain will turn into the shining stars and it’s going to come to you.’ I want to cheer people up when they hear that track. Onda also means ‘wave’ in Spanish, and I also want to say the third big wave of Jambinai is coming!”

The first big wave arrived in 2010 after traditional music students Lee (guitar and piri, a bamboo oboe), Kim Bo-mi (the bow-stringed haegum) and Sim Eun-young (geomungo) joined forces and released the Jambinai EP. The trio’s debut album Différance won Best Crossover Album at the 2013 Korean Music Awards, triggering several overseas tours and the second wave of Jambinai – an international deal with Bella Union and a second album, A Hermitage. At the time, Lee cited the influence of bands like Metallica, Mogwai and Sigur Rös, but such was the trio’s energy levels, they seemed to draw more on thunderstorms, tidal waves, volcanic eruptions, blizzards and desert winds – a force of nature more than a band.

It’s hard to believe but ONDA is even more dynamic and rhythmic, with the permanent addition of Jaehyuk Choi (drums) and B.K Yu (bass), fixtures of Jambinai’s live band since 2017. The way the quintet “sticks together like gears of a clock or machine,” says Lee, is celebrated on ‘Square Wave’, a breathtaking example of Jambinai’s ability to alternate between ambient serenity and molten ferocity. 

‘Square Wave’ is also one of several ONDA cuts to feature vocals. “Voice and lyrics have strong energy, they can touch someone’s heart directly more than instruments,” Lee explains. “Also, most people don’t know Korean, so they hear our voices as sound rather than meaning. We needed more sounds on this album.”

Not that the instrumental tracks are any less momentous. Take the opening ‘Sawtooth’ (featuring Hwiseon Choi on yanggeum, a hammered dulcimer), because Lee thinks the band’s constantly shifting dynamic, “resembles the sawtooth waveform of electronic sound.”  

13 minutes long, ‘In The Woods’ is the album’s lengthiest epic, originally recorded for Jambiani’s 2010 EP and now rearranged for the expanded quintet, plus guest traditional singer Bora Kim.  The inspiration here is environmental pollution, soundtracked by eight minutes of mournful ambience that slowly builds to a shattering climax. “The earth is in serious pain,” Lee concludes.

ONDA ends on a thematic note of drama and redemption. In ‘Small Consolation’, says Lee, “a person leads their weary body to a distant glow, which is small consolation. But when they get there, it turns into a big light, big consolation and happiness.” The closing title track comes in two parts: a calm prelude (featuring Lee on saenghwang, a tall reed mouth organ) before the euphoric main course, graced by choral grandeur. Once the music dies away, the feeling is one of blissful exhaustion. 

Says Lee: “After Jambinai’s US tour of 2017, I travelled the country for a month. I was worried about my future and the music because I had quit my job for the band but we didn’t have much money and the tour was tough and tiring for everyone. But when I visited the Grand Canyon, Mother Nature cheered me up and it was felt like she was telling me, “you are doing really well. Back in Korea, I wrote more songs with confidence and happiness.” The third wave of Jambinai is here….