Jambinai - A Hermitage - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Jambinai - A Hermitage

by Jeff Penczak Rating:5 Release Date:2016-06-24

This award-winning (Best Crossover Album, 2013) Korean post rock trio’s sophomore release mines similar aggressive, industrial noise strategies as their Différance debut. ‘Wardrobe’ sets the stage for an hour of barnstorming, shit kicking, thrash metal the kids may love but the old fogeys (parents) just don’t understand. Making as much noise as possible, it’s hard to believe there’s only three of them screaming, slaughtering their instruments and pissing off everyone in a three mile radius. This is the kind of stuff John Peel championed right up until his untimely passing, and it appears that scene is still hanging on.

However, all is not a total loss, as the eastern-tinged traditional strains of ‘For Everything That You Lost’ (complete with tinkling piano, Bomi Kim’s fiddle-like haegum, Ilwoo Lee’s guitar and piri (a Korean flute made of bamboo) and Eun Youg Sim’s geomungo, a Korean zither) create a Zen-like ambience for some serious navel gazing. The haunting, bird-like vocals add a bit of dissonance to keep us on our toes, though. ‘Abyss’ brings both strands of their sound together for a chance dissection of noise and traditional Korean music into something entirely different from what most modern Korean rock bands are attempting. It’s offputting and alluring at the same time, although I could have done without the rapped lyrics (in Korean) whose message is lost on non-Korean speakers.

More banshee-like wailing is on tap throughout ‘Deus Benedicat Tini’, a reaction against a traditional song typically played to accompany the king when he’s out for a stroll amongst his subjects. Jambinai are not happy with the state of affairs in Korea where many people give us their dreams and yield to a repressed society with little hope for improvement (Lee notes that Korea has the world’s highest suicide rate) and this is dedicated to those who hang on.

A Hermitage may baffle and infuriate many listeners, while simultaneously invigorate others who feel music has become too complacent and needs a good swift kick in the arse. Certainly not many acts combine traditional ethnic sounds and instruments with vicious hardcore noise, so they will certainly get some reaction out of everyone who ventures into their musical hermitage. And all music should elicit a response from the listener. This shows the band has injected their tunes and arrangements with the same emotion that they feel outside the studio where they have to deal with everyday life. Whether this is an exciting, blood-curdling jolt of energy or a rambling, noisy piece of shit is up to you to decide. I’ll sit on the fence and split my vote, just as they’ve elected to split their songs into two completely different styles.

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