E-Do – Yeominrok (Pony Canyon Korea, 2015)
Every once in a while I get the musical version of a kick in the pants and Korean musical ensemble E-Do’s Yeominrok, out on the Pony Canyon label, is that kick in the pants, smack to the kisser, punch to the gut and audible gobsmack all rolled into one. A brilliant, edgy, quirky blend of traditional Korean musical sensibilities, jazz and rock, Yeominrok is thrilling musical journey.
Fashioned out the talents of chulhyungeum (iron-stringed zither) player Kyung-hwa Ryu, drummer and percussionist Chung Lim, Korean drummer and percussionist Min-soo Cho, electronic bassist and contrabassist Jung-chul Seo, daegeum (pipe) and taepyeongso (double reed wind instrument player Young-Sup Lee, with additions of keyboardist Seung-hwan Yang, vocalist Tae-young Kim and daegeum player Young-goo Lee.
Yeominrok is both exotically surprising and fantastically expressive. Bridging the gaps of Korean traditional music, jazz and rock, as well as sliding in elements of Indian classical traditions, Yeominrok takes the musical version of a flying leap and soars far and wide into the wonders of fusion.
Starting off in a deceptive kind of quiet with “Bird of Oblivion,” it soon becomes apparent that the listener is in for a treat with the twang of metal strings, the sweet strains of flute and the occasional ting of a bell. This track builds up a sweet tension like waiting that moment in time when a bird takes flight while still trying to take in the beauty of the bird.
Yeominrok just gets better with the quick paced “Road” with its driving rhythms, sweeping flute and delicious tapping percussion. Jazzy and clever “The Brave Moonlight,” possesses a subterranean coolness, while “Kanwondo Arirang” proves edgily masterful with rock percussion and vocals.
Leaning heavily on a measured, restrained Korean traditional feel, “Bohoeja” is just as delightful. Closing “Ayrtthaya” with its percussion opening is a little deceptive as the piece flowers into a lushly dreamy track while still threading that explosive percussion through the track before the track gives way to a jazzy whirlwind complete with reedy pipe.
Yeominrok is one of those wonderful recordings where the silence between notes is just as important as the notes themselves, where delicacy brushes up against the fantastical and where the listener is led down the musical road that’s mined with rich and wonderful surprises.
Buy the digital version of Yeominrok
Author: TJ Nelson
TJ Nelson is a regular CD reviewer and editor at World Music Central. She is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing Athena’s Shadow.
Set in Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long forgotten family mystery. Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of little help in her quest. Along with her best friends, an attractive Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931.
Traversing the line between the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to uncover Athena’s true crime.