Boomkat Product Review:
South Korean duo Salamanda deviate further from their ambient roots on their Wisdom Teeth debut, making lucid, playful vocal pop and interspersing it with wiggly club sounds, Reichian minimalism and Sakamoto-inspired soundscapes.
It doesn't take very long for Uman Therma (aka Sala) and Yetsuby (aka Manda) to make their pop intentions known. 'Homemade Jam' is the most upfront track the duo have crafted, curving Autotuned vocals around itchy drums, psychedelic horn blasts and fluttering synths. "Make a jam, by myself," a disembodied voice crows repeatedly, offering a hook to a space previously inhabited by toytown electronics and washy ambience. Salamanda have already released three albums and a ruck of one-offs, and in just a few years they've locked in and focused on a sound that's instantly recognisable. 'Sun Tickles' is bright and good-natured, drawing from kankyō ongaku and sounding like Midori Takada after a spell on the beach, while 'Purple Punch' adds undulating dub techno rhythms without joining the throng of Chain Reaction copyists.
Sala and Manda add a ruff step to their palette on 'Tonal, Fluid', mixing up glittery pop sounds into a slop of '80s reverb and tight FM bass and sounding like hybrid garage dreamed up by YMO fans. And if you're worried there might be a lack of beatless moments, 'Full of Mushrooms' and 'Mysterious Wedding' should slake your thirst. The former is a lovely, bell glazed hallucination, and the latter a dark journey into Seoul's mysterious underground, with distant horns and rumbling environmental recordings. Elsewhere, the duo fractalize Imogen Heap-like vocals on 'In Parallel', and build dainty R&B with marimba knocks on 'Sending Ritual'.