Strange one this from the normally safe-as-houses Bella Union. Jambinai are a South Korean trio who marry post rock dynamics with Korean folk roots using a mixture of exotic stringed things. They create droning mantra's that explode into shards of noise that is certainly not for the faint hearted but is already finding fans in our office.
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Riffs that’d make Converge weep and publication on Bella Union? It just doesn’t make sense, dammit. Jambinai don’t sound like the usual musical middlemen we’d be hearing on the fabled indie pop label, veering towards the recessing shadows of metalcore and post-rock and any genre that has might. Godspeed, Toby Driver and Big/Brave all come to mind on opener “Wardrobe”, while the record’s constant recycling of South Korean folk music, within this extreme context, brings to mind the full-bodied and self-crucialising sounds of Jon Mueller’s Death Blues. Phew. Lots of loud things, then.
‘A Hermitage’ is a record of brazen intensity and little humours: “Echo of Creation” paddles the kind of squeaky, back-and-forth guitar dynamics of Mike Patton, but eventually fades into a gorgeous medley of distraught vocals and groaning violins, before ascending once more through a star-twinkling xylophone. There are more things I could talk about on this track alone -- the trembling guitar flicks, which recall Mogwai circa ‘Hardcore’, or the marching band drumbeat -- which goes a long way to explaining Jambinai: in one track alone, they cover more than most bands do over a wide spread of records.
“Abyss” is a fine example of how Jambinai fuse their Korean roots folk with their more colossal post-rock inclinations -- the band keep an acoustic picking pattern running in place as the track mutates into a free-for-all of percussion and ghostly vocals -- they’re eventually joined by a spoken word soliloquy that seems oblivious to the chaos reigning around it. At points, it sounds like making this must’ve been a logistical headache, but it only ever sounds triumphant. This record summer’s best action thriller.
8/10 Greg Customer review, 17th February 2017
South Korea, we forgive you for bringing Psy (and Gangnam Style) into the the world! This sophomore effort from the Koreans is a fine example of non-conventional post-rock, using non-western traditional rock and instruments native to their country to create an atmosphere that will not only pummel you, but also lift you at the same time. Even when it's at its heaviest, there is also a sense of beauty deep within this cacophony of sound. Overall, A Hermitage is an intense, yet meditative experience.
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