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Quick Reviews: 3rd Line Butterfly, Miss $, and Primary

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3호선 버터플라이 (3rd Line Butterfly) – Dreamtalk

Release: October 8, 2012
Distributor: Mirrorball Music
Genre: Psychedelic, post-rock
Rating: 

After 8 years in the making, Dreamtalk is pretty appropriately titled. Its lyrics are pervasively hazy – sometimes acutely lucid, but often just confusing like nothing else. Sometimes, the lyrics manifest in subtler forms of meaning, as the obscure allegory of 향 (Aroma), the unfinished narrative of J Says, or the outright gamesmanship of 끝말잇기 (Connecting Words). At other times, the nonsense is simply a form of 3rd Line Butterfly being faithful to the old vocals-as-instrument philosophy. There are lots of onomatopoeia, meaningless repetitions, percussive utterances, and rhythmic wordplay all throughout Dreamtalk; I’d even say that this is the primary mode of lyricism. Weiv already has a detailed, informative breakdown of the chaotic flow and effectiveness of 스모우크핫커피리필 (Smoke Hot Coffee Refill)‘s lyrics, but even apart from this exercise in deconstructionism, elements like the hypnotic ad-libs in 니가 더 섹시해 괜찮아 (It’s Okay, You’re Sxxier) and solely positional exposition of 너와나 (You And I) meld slyly into the instrumentation and influence the album’s mood not by message but rather by sound.

The instrumentation is brilliant, by the way. It just takes a back seat in light of what 3rd Line Butterfly is doing with language in this album. The band gets pretty creative with its structures, for starters: Smoke Hot Coffee Refill and 꿈속으로 (Into The Dream) are both ambitiously scaled multi-movement scores that effectively travel between introspection, elation, energy, and in case of the latter, even haunting unease in the space of four or five minutes. The experienced hands of Sung Ki-wan and Kim Nam-yoon perform evocative guitar work and tantalizing effecter usage throughout; some of their most handsome payoffs appear in lead single 헤어지는 날 바로 오늘 (The Day We Part, Today) in the form of a deliciously layered, soaring outro. (I can’t shake the feeling that this is what Deli Spice‘s single earlier this year should have been.) Nam Sang-ah‘s relaxed performance adds to the nebulous combination.

Like dreams themselves, Dreamtalk is easy to identify with but difficult to interpret. Sometimes it just throws eight minutes of a post-rock sound experiment like The Hitchhiker-reminiscent 제주바람 (Jeju Wind) 20110807 at you. Like with any great album, unraveling Dreamtalk is an involved process, but it helps you out. Its ambience and psychedelia are immersive. The lyrics (when they make sense) are thoughtful. And perhaps the best of all, unlike an elusive dream, none of it is fleeting.

Tracklist (recommended tracks listed in bold)

1. 스모우크핫커피리필 (Smoke Hot Coffee Refill)
2. 꿈속으로 (Into The Dream)
3. 넌 어느새 난 또다시 (Already For You, Again For Me)
4. 니가 더 섹시해 괜찮아 (It’s Okay, You’re Sxxier)
5. 너와나 (You And I)
6. 헤어지는 날 바로 오늘 (The Day We Part, Today)
7. Hello
8. 향 (Aroma)
9. J Says
10. 다시 가보니 흔적도 없네 (I Go Back And There Isn’t Even A Trace)
11. 쿠쿠루쿠쿠 비둘기 (Cuckooroocuckoo Pigeon)
12. 제주바람 (Jeju Wind) 20110807
13. 끝말잇기 (Connecting Words)

Miss $ – Miss Us?

Release: October 25, 2012
Distributor: Neowiz Internet
Genre: Pop-rap
Rating:

Miss $ rappers Oh Yumi and Jace have had some problems in the past, but rap tone has not been one of them – rather, the main issue has always been an inability (or lack of demonstrated ability) to consistently build engaging flows and lyrics. (In this they are joined by several present and past idol rappers – Zinger, Hwayoung, and Chae Rina come to mind most readily.) Miss Us? doesn’t help tremendously in this department. 몸인지 맘인지 (Body Or Soul) immediately rehashes all the familiar problems: simplistic (or nonexistent) rhyming, trite subject matter, ill-fitting touches (such as the floating intonation in the second verse), and overcooked performances – from both rappers as well as Kang Min-hee, the new vocalist. By now, I want to conclude that drama doesn’t help this group much – there seems to be a recurring tendency towards superfluous emotion in ballads.

On the other hand, the groove-minded tracks on the EP work much better.안자고 뭐해 (Good Night), which frames itself as an advisory message much like Nam Soo-rim‘s 그는 너를 사랑하지 않아 (He Doesn’t Love You), benefits from the rappers’ steely delivery and a easy-flowing beat that takes some of the burden off of lyricism. 내 전화 좀 뺏어줘 (Please Take Away My Phone) likewise frees up room for some creative dynamics between the girls and the two featured rappers, and has the EP’s best verse when Jace breaks off for a pushy, no-breath four bars reminiscent of Tiger JK‘s style. So I think there’s a glimpse of what will work for Miss $ in Miss Us?. But until they bring up their fundamentals more, the ceiling doesn’t appear all that high for this group.

Tracklist (recommended tracks listed in bold)

  1. 몸인지 맘인지 (Body Or Soul)
    2. 안자고 뭐해 (Good Night)
  2. 니 남자가 아니야 (Not Your Man)
    4. 내 전화 좀 뺏어줘 (Please Take Away My Phone) – Featuring Huh In-chang; Kanto of Troy
  3. 안자고 뭐해 (Good Night) – Instrumental
  4. 담배 좀 줄여 (Cut Down On Smoking) – Bonus Track

Primary – Primary And The Messengers LP

Release: October 31, 2012
Distributor: CJ E&M
Genre: Rap, hip-hop
Rating:

In hindsight, this really isn’t the best album to try to review in anything less than full length. At 20 tracks, Primary And The Messengers really puts the “L” into that “LP”. Heck, it’s the longest I’ve tackled since last year’s 32-track behemoth, Art & Business by Cho PD. I’ll throw out some key words to streamline the discussion: funk and R&B, topics that don’t stray too far from modern love stories, the most insane supporting cast to grace a single album this year. Okay, now let’s go through these.

The beats are all hand-crafted by Primary, as expected. He embraces a wide spectrum of instrumentation, with the first disc focusing on funk and jazz and the second shifting towards soul and R&B . They’re always solid and often nuanced; each track is created with attention to staccato-laden, bass-layered, brass-sputtered detail. The knock on the instrumentation, if anything, might be that no track stands out with killer beats, but that’s as much a result of quality consistency as of composition. And it doesn’t help that the majority of the album’s subject matter revolves around the recent hip-hop trend of soft, sensitive love songs. Yes, these are smart lyrics that approach stories from diverse directions, but even that can lead to monotony in an album this long. Some welcome changes-of-pace are found in the vintage Garion beatdown in 말이야 (What I Mean) and the rousing, triumphant soliloquy of 독 (Poison).

But then again, a lot of people who listen to this aren’t going to care about any of that. If there’s one album this year to listen to just based on name value, it’s this. A total of twenty-five artists appear on Primary And The Messengers to lend a hand, and it’s like a who’s who of Korean hip-hop today. The cast is diverse – young and old (from G.O. to MC Meta and Nachal), rapper and vocalist (from Gary and Yankie to Mellow and Jinsil), mainstream and indie (from Jay Park to Deez). Many of the country’s most influential crews, including Hi-Lite, Amoeba Culture, 1llionaire, Movement, Bulhandang, and by a stretch Jiggy Fellaz, are all represented. The performances all meet, if not exceed, expectations (E-Sens, Garion, and Zion.T have the most memorable contributions), but that’s not as important as the fact that listening to this album is like experiencing a demographic confluence of Korean hip-hop. This is a fine album, but an even finer snapshot and archive of where this scene stood in 2012.

Tracklist (recommended tracks listed in bold)

Disc 1:

1. 요지경 (State of Affairs) – Featuring Supreme Team, Yankie, Mellow
2. Happy Ending – Featuring Jinsil of Mad Soul Child, Gary of Leessang
3. 말이야 (What I Mean) – Featuring Garion
4. 만나 (Meet) – Featuring Zion.T
5. 멀어 (Too Far) – Featuring Beenzino
6. LOVE – Featuring Bumkey, Paloalto
7. 씨스루 (See-through) – Featuring Zion.T, Gaeko of Dynamic Duo
8. Mine Tonight – Featuring Jinbo, Dok2
9. 입장정리 (Clearing Things Up) – Featuring Choiza of Dynamic Duo, Simon D of Supreme Team
10. 하이엔드걸 (High End Girl) – Featuring Deez

Disc 2:

  1. 2주일 (Two Weeks) – Featuring Rhythm Power
    2. ? (물음표) (Question Mark) – Featuring Choiza of Dynamic Duo, Zion.T
    3. 축하해 (Congratulations) – Featuring Dynamic Duo, Jay Park
    4. I’m Back – Featuring Yankie, Double K, G.O. of MBLAQ
  2. Playboy’s Diary – Featuring Junggigo, Dead’P
  3. Interlude
    7. 독 (Poison) – Featuring E-Sens of Supreme Team
  4. 3호선 매봉역 (3rd Line Maebong Station) – Featuring Paloalto, Beenzino
  5. Outro
    10. 거기서 거기읾 (All The Same) – Featuring Dynamic Duo, E-Sens of Supreme Team, Boi B of Rhythm Power

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely of the individual and not of hellokpop as a whole.

Source: Photos – Korean Indie, Bugs Music (1) (2); Reference – Cha Woo-jin’s Wordbeat on Weiv

Have a recent release that you’d like to see reviewed? Tell us in a comment below! Requested albums will be considered each week and may be selected to be reviewed in the subsequent week.

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