Boomkat Product Review:
Surely one of the greatest Late Junction recordings, this elision of spoken word and Korean mouth organ makes a must-check album on Cafe Oto’s seminal Otoruku series
While writer and performer Roy Claire Potter’s scouse delivery sounds contemporary, Park Jiha’s use of traditional Korean instruments including the harmonica-like saenghwang, a hammered dulcimer called a yanggeum, and bamboo flute, piri, resembling a harmonica, displace their sound somewhere completely other, and call to mind the enchanting effect of Hanne Lipard’s sound poetry and Mark Leckey’s faerie stories as much as the natural worlds evoked by Laua Cannell or the dextrous tekkerz of Okkyung Lee. For this writer especially, so much spoken word stuff can be a massive turn-off, usually when deployed with middle class southern accents, but our parochiality gets the better of us when it comes to accents from our native regions, and this one’s spot-on for its balance of unapologetic enunciation and parallax musical perspective.
Over the course of five parts Park alters the instrumental backdrops to Roy’s storytelling lilt, variously keeping in step with her range of intensities. It’s possible to plot an escalation of energies from the shanty-like imagery and feel of ‘Saenghwang for the milky boys’ and ultimately the tempered seethe of ‘Yanggeum for snapped ankle’, with particularly penetrative results in the nagging then shimmering backdrops that underline Roy’s imagery of Anglesey depicted in ‘Yanggeum for Trwyn Du, at Penmon’, or their masterful elegy for a sunken North Walesian settlement in ‘Piri & Yanggeum for a flooded town’. Seriously this is a rare and quietly brilliant one completely worthy of close attention.