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- Scattered Melodies: Korean Kayagum Sanjo by Various
9/10 Phil Staff review, 25 January 2013
OK I know nothing about vintage Korean Kayagum Sanjo music from the 1920s-1950s. I bet you don’t either, unless you’re Robert Millis who has obsessively been collecting 78s since before things were invented. So whatever I say about this is probably going to be ill informed and reasonably ignorant sounding so here goes.
Here’s a collection of folk/traditional 13 tunes culled from 78s by five artists. There’s no point me listing them all as you’ve not heard of ‘em apart fron Jung Nam Hee who’s a household name where I come from in Leeds. They play a thing called a Korean Kayagum Sanjo which is kind of like a smaller Japanese koto. These are distant and timeless recordings that are enchanting and really very much like nothing you’ve heard before. As it says in the press release ‘these are sounds rarely heard by contemporary western ears’ which kind of says it all.
In between the string plucking are strange bangs which form a semblance of a beat but they can seem pretty random along with some of the playing. Sometimes it’s more tuneful and other times it sounds like it’s just a couple of guys mucking about. There’s a total blues vibe running through the tracks, you can totally hear the heart. It sounds great whatever it is and if you want to hear some fresh old sounds and you’re fascinated about the origins and different styles of music then get into the car that’s pulling into your drive now.
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