This article previously appeared on Crossfader
Bandcamp Picks of the Week, as large and in charge as ever
이랑 – 신의 놀이
Genre – Indie Folk, Indie Pop
Favorite Tracks: “세상 모든 사람들이 나를 미워하기 시작했다,” “이야기속으로,” “웃어, 유머에”
The great thing about music is that if it sounds good, it sounds good. It doesn’t matter whether you know what instruments are being used, or even if you don’t speak the same language as the singer: a connection is made purely through the sounds produced. South Korean indie-folker Lang Lee has provided a collection of gorgeous, intimate tracks that sound all the more beautiful due to the language barrier, which causes the lyrics and delivery to be appreciated for their texture. Lee’s voice takes on the form of an instrument itself, an interstitial companion to the existing arrangements, particularly on the opener, “신의 놀이,” where her smooth vocals stay intact even after breathless intoning. There’s a ballerina-like quality to Lee’s voice, in that with little movements or inflections, so much is to be taken away.
Even if “이야기속으로” is just Lee and her guitar, each syllable and cadence speaks so much more than lyrics could. The piano melody that arrives later provides the somber bedroom piece with just an extra oomph of melancholy, the kind where kind you’re glad it’s raining because that means everybody else is inside too. There’s a charm to the fragility in her timbre, reminiscent of the certain gossamer innocence The Velvet Underground’s Maureen “Moe” Tucker would bring the rare occasions she sung upfront (i.e. “After Hours”).
Lang Lee brings in a variety of other instruments to help exact the emotions she’s running through, such as the lovely violins that whirl around “웃어, 유머에.” Her vocals skip and glide through the string-woven meadows as she conjures up some kind of rushing, tingling feeling—you’re on the verge of finding something that just might change you in the best way. The album’s greatest strength comes from creating certain sensations like these, ones you may not be able to articulate, but nonetheless enjoy trying to decipher them. In a way, understanding her lyrics would be distracting you from yourself, from looking inward. Most, if not all musicians would probably hope for their music to move or change you in a certain way, and few accomplish doing so. Lang Lee does, and there’s no doubt you can feel it. You can feel it all. Check out 신의 놀이 here. [Nick Funess]
OOHYO – GIRL SENSE (소녀감성)
Genre: K-Pop, Dream Pop
Favorite Tracks: “Vineyard (Korean Ver.),” “Teddy Bear Rises,” “Girl Sense”
Most know K-Pop music for the chipper vocal melodies and bombastic instrumentals, with gorgeous young men and women forming super groups that seem to place an equal importance on looks as the music itself. On OOHYO’s debut EP, GIRL SENSE, she has successfully delivered a far more stripped back and minimalist approach to the genre by paying homage to bedroom synthpop rather than squeaky clean mainstream genre manifestation. OOHYO shows a refreshing amount of diversity on GIRL SENSE, as seen on the predominantly acoustic tracks such as “Vineyard,” with her vocal delivery particularly standing out. There is a refreshing mix of lyrics in both English and Korean, making GIRL SENSE a great transitional album for those looking to dip their toes into the K-Pop genre. She has a strong singing voice and sticks to a strong and comfortable register, setting her apart from the occasionally grating vocals some K-Pop artists employ. The titular track of the album, “Girl Sense,” begins with a somber vocal melody and an equally moody electric piano ballad which crescendos into an infectiously groovy pop track. All and all, this project can be a bit meat-and-potatoes in terms of its instrumental themes, but is truly set apart by OOHYO’s passionate voice, rocketing her above her K-Pop and lo-fi pop contemporaries. You can find OOHYO’s GIRL SENSE on Bandcamp. [Will Turmon]