Quick Reviews: Hash Swan’s “Peridot”, Ohheejung’s “Yop” & IZ*ONE’s “HEART*IZ”

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Hash Swan – Peridot

Release: March 29, 2019
Label: Ambition Musik
Distributor: Genie Music, Stone Music Entertainment
Genre: Hip-hop

As versatile as Hash Swan has been the last couple years, I think his best work has tended to lean on melodic rapping: his lyricism as well as his laid-back, almost drowsy tone have shined there. But the first two tracks of Peridot, a pair of sparkling pop-rock infusions, still come as a bit of pleasant surprise. Toil’s beats are crisp and dynamic, Hash Swan hums along with sentimental storytelling, and the featured performers bring a charge of emotion to the beaming hooks (Leellamarz especially is an unexpectedly good fit). The emcee returns to more disciplined and often speedy flow in the latter two tracks; they’re plain by comparison and he doesn’t ever take over a track solely on rapping merits (“High Beam” only seems to come alive when Swervy shows up), but good production and hook-writing lift them up. This is the shortest album yet from Hash Swan, but also his most focused.

Tracklist (recommended tracks in bold)

  1. Arrow (Feat. Skinny Brown)
    Written by Hash Swan and Skinny Brown; composed and arranged by Toil
  2. Airplane Mode (Feat. Leellamarz)
    Written by Hash Swan and Leellamarz; composed and arranged by Toil
  3. Dante
    Written by Hash Swan; composed and arranged by Toil
  4. High Beam (Feat. Swervy)
    Written by Hash Swan and Swervy; composed by Stoney; arranged by Toil and Eco Yard

Ohheejung – 욥 (Yop)

Release: April 1, 2019
Label: Independent
Distributor: Poclanos
Genre: Electronic, ambient

I’ve long enjoyed Ohheejung’s work – she’s one of the few artists to have appeared in our Year In Review series five years in a row (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017) – and that rock-solid quality is alive and well for Yop. Its warm, ambient electronica is still unpredictable: instrumental solos abound everywhere, new layers enter the din of “Dryflowers” every few measures, and “Are You There” basically uses hi-hats as the primary instrument. While the EP mostly runs on ethereal and propagating synths to accompany its vibrant melodies, a few anchoring devices – some sharp drum programming, and things like the firm arpeggio of “Diamond” – provide clarity and power. It’s one dazzling moment after another, all bound in dreamy passion.

Tracklist (recommended tracks in bold)

(All tracks written, composed, and arranged by Ohheejung.)

  1. 욥 (Yop)
  2. 고백 (Look At Me)
  3. Dryflowers
  4. Are You There
  5. 보석 (Diamond)
  6. Hotpot


Release: April 1, 2019
Label: Off The Record Entertainment
Distributor: Genie Music
Genre: Dance, electronic

Listening to “Violeta”, I had to do a double take to make sure it wasn’t produced by the same team that did “La Vie en Rose”. The track resembles IZ✱ONE’s debut song in a lot of ways: it has a bold and booming prechorus, a spacious chorus that rides lightly post-drop, the same wobble texture as its driver, and that same structure where the outro opens up to a different rhythm (more of a breakdown this time) and busier arrangement than the main chorus. It’s formulaic, and the chorus could still use more heft, but this makes “Violeta” immediately recognizable as an IZ✱ONE track. And despite some overdone whistles, I think it’s better than its predecessor: the sequel is quite a bit punchier, and its lyrics – expanding the flower motif towards light and sky – are more interesting.

The tonal composition of HEART✱IZ also follows COLOR✱IZ. Bright and upbeat tunes, including a couple adaptations of the group’s Japanese singles, accompany the title track and the understated “Highlight”. “Airplane” is pleasant, a summery singalong highlighted by playfully-rapped spelling hooks and rigid brass synths; but in general, I think these are not as memorable as “Colors” or “We Together” were. The EP’s achievement is, instead, a step towards consistency and something greater. If there’s a way to convincingly bridge this bubblegum levity with “Violeta”‘s charged energy, that would be an interesting space for IZ✱ONE to occupy.

Tracklist (recommended tracks in bold)

  1. 해바라기 (Hey. Bae. Like It.)
    Written by Tenzo, Kebee, EB; composed by Tenzo and Muna; arranged by Muna
  2. 비올레타 (Violeta)
    Written and composed by Choi Hyun-joon and Kim Seung-soo; arranged by Park Seul-gi
  3. Highlight
    Written by Choivocado and So Jay; composed by Lee Tae-hoon, Sam Carter, Rami Nu, bK; arranged by Lee Tae-hoon
  4. Really Like You
    Written by Yoske, Kim Min-ju, Honda Hitomi, Alive Knob; composed by Eastwest (1by1) and Yoske; arranged by Eastwest
  5. Airplane
    Written by Lee Dae-hwi, So Jay, Jo Yoon-kyung, Jang Yeo-jin; composed by Lee Dae-hwi, Rissi, Simpson; arranged by Rissi and Simpson
  6. 하늘 위로 (Up)
    Written by KZ; composed and arranged by KZ and Nthonius
  7. 고양이가 되고 싶어 (猫になりたい) (Nekoni Naritai) (Korean ver.)
    Written by Akimoto Yasushi; composed and arranged by Shintaro Fujiwara
  8. 기분 좋은 안녕 (ご機嫌サヨナラ) (Gokigen Sayonara) (Korean ver.)
    Written by Akimoto Yasushi; composed by Toshihiko Watanabe; arranged by Toshihiko Watanabe and Hirotaka Hayakawa

Album cover images from Bugs Music (1) (2) (3). Lyric translations by author.

Related writing: IZONE – COLORIZ (review)