Recently, I’ve been looking into original Korean music outside of the K-Popisphere, something I’ve always been a bit interested in; given the overwhelming dominance of K-Pop both within South Korea itself and as the keystone musical import, what other type of music is being produced? Korean-American producers like Yaeji non-inclusive, what kind of natively Korean music is popular within their music scene?
The underground scene in Japan is pretty well-known in America for genres like noise rock (Melt-Banana, Boredoms, Merzbow, and more recently, Otoboke Beaver), dream pop (Fishmans), amongst many many others, but it seems a bit harder to find the same kind of influence from countries like South Korea and China, or perhaps I haven’t been looking hard enough.
Anyways, a reddit post introducing Korean Indie recommended Mid-Air Thief’s latest album, Crumbling, which came out just last year.
Crumbling is lush, impeccably produced, incredibly romantic, and just gorgeous and wonderful to listen to. “These Chains,” the second track on the album, is my favorite. A combination of smooth, ethereal vocals, crisp and lovely acoustic strumming, and these contrasting, bubbly synths, “These Chains” paints an intensely passionate landscape of resonating, bassy lows and an infectious main melody that sounds like the musical equivalent of some joyous dream of falling into love*. Meticulously detailed at every step, the song’s buildup from gentle solo-vocal + acoustic guitar into those cascading vocal harmonies and glittering chime-like sounds is sweet and natural. The tone of the song is that same impressionist pastel-blue as the cover – concerned primarily with the very human, emotive quality of love as opposed to the realism of it. Irrespective of all these clichés I just put down, it really sounds super nice.
The rest of Crumbling is fantastic as well – in particular,” Crumbling Together.” If producers like Mid-Air Thief are indicative of the kind of indie talent we’re missing out on hearing from South Korea, then that’s a huge shame. There’s so much effort and detail pumped into this project that it’s hard not to respect, even if you don’t necessarily like the musical or creative content. I hope you give the song (or better yet, album) a shot!
*I’ve kind of fixated on love as the implied theme of this song, although the lyrics don’t at all support it. It just sounds so romantic to me! I don’t know man.