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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Heum - s/t

Name: Heum
Album: s/t
Year: 2009
Style: Contemporary Jazz
Similar Bands: 80's TV Drama Themes, Vince Guaraldi
"One Word" Review: Charlie Brown Sad Sax
Based Out Of: Korea
Label: BIC Music
Heum - Cover, back and fold out
Heum - Inner Notes, Tray and CD
Heum (2009)
01. 그 극장의 마지막 상영 (The Theater's Last Show) 5:23
02. 花  (Flower) 6:14
03. 한 걸음에 두 계단 (two stairs one step) 4:12
04. Someday My Bassman Will Come 4:02
05. 일사병 (stroke) 6:50
06. 102 3:35
07. Psionic Storm 5:38
08. JJ 4:39
09. 우리도 아리랑 고개를 넘는다 (Going Over Arirang’s Head???) 4:35
10. Someday My Bassman Will Come (Soprano Saxophone Version) -  4:04

Album Rating: (1-10): 5.0

Members & Other Bands:
Choi Jung Heum - Sax
Lee Kwang Hyuk - Drums
Kang Yoo Hyun - Piano
Shim Young Joo - Bass
Carlos Manuel Navarrete - Album Art

Unknown-Ness: I’ve never heard of this band, and rightfully so, as it looks like they are from Korea. I liked the artwork, and finding it in a thrift store 50 cent bin pushed me over the edge to pick it up to try it. I’m just hoping it is something interesting, perhaps some experimental fun/noise stuff. But the packaging is a good enough sell for me.

Album Review: Instrumental Jazz is not my thing, and even though there are two songs with vocals, on the whole, this is not my thing, and makes me think of 80's TV show theme songs. So forgive me if I cannot make a well educated comparison for this album.

“The Theater’s Last Show” begins with a simple, klezmer –like sax, which is the primary instrument in this piece. There is a simple jazzy bass line in the background and minimal piano and drums. It is a fun, playful tune with an underlying sadness. Toward the end of the song, the sax takes a break, and the piano moves to the front, following the same ascending and descending melody. Around 410, the sad sax comes back, holding a final note for about 30 seconds
“Flower” has a twinkling piano intro, and is followed by a bluesy sax, painting a naive, yet slightly sinister picture. The tempo and momentum shifts, and the song graduates to a steady swagger as it progresses forward. A steady, toe tapping rhythm sections keeps the tempo moving forward. The true freedom to the song’s structure lies solely in the improve sax performance. In the verse, the sax feels like a slowed down Toejam and Earl Funkatron video game theme song.
“Two Stairs, One Step” starts with low, shady notes from a sax, and minimal piano played like a metronome, keeping the tempo. Light drums come in slowly, adding a bit of texture to the slowly developing song. The sax picks up the intensity and octave, yet the piano slowly plods along in the background.
“Someday, My Bassman Will Come” creates a smoky jazz club vibe with a low sax and tinkling piano that seem out of time with each other. This song has low vocals as well, nearly whispered. The vocals are replaced with the higher pitch sax, and the sad takes on a sad yet romantic shape. It reminds me of Stevie Wonder playing a slow Italian standard. The vocals come back in near the 3 min mark, and carry heavy sorrow with their quiet delivery.
“Stroke” is a bit of a driving jazz song. The bass and pianos create a repetitive ground, where each instrument overtakes the other. The sax has a confident sorrow in how it is played. Shortly after the 2 min mark, the bass has a chance to take center stage with a break out performance that sounds every bit as much as vocals as the vocals did before. Toward the end of the song, the sax answers, and brings the attention of the listener back from a bit of wandering time with a simple yet sharp melody.

“102” features a rolling sax melody played over minimal piano, and even more minimal bass. The start-stopping of the notes again make me think of a good many theme songs to office/city oriented tv shows in the 80’s. The melody is repetitive, but easy to follow along with, and does actually vary slightly as the song progresses.
“Psionic Storm” starts with a spastic multi layered horn, and a dark, brooding bass line, with wood block percussion that grows into the densest and complex drumming on the album (but is still not that complicated). This song feels the closest to a straightforward rock/pop song, thanks to the rhythm section. An organ is added to the mix, guiding the bridge along over two repeating, held notes. The organ gets moe complex, and create a somewhat psychedelic tone in the pit of this driving rock song. Past the 5 min mark, ti feels as if it could go on forever, then it just stops.
“JJ” sets out to reconcile the previous song, taking it back to the smooth jazz standards of piano and metronome percussion. This song features a soulful, R&B vocal between male and female vocals. It is kind of like a slowed down, less energetic version of Jamiroquai’s Virtual Insanity.
“Going Over Arirang’s Head(?)” has echoy bongo drums to start out, and it is a slow piano ballad. The sad sax is added in, and the piano sounds or stereotypical oriental melody.
“Someday, My Bassman Will Come (Soprano Sax)” returns us to the 4th track, but rather than a smoky lounge, the sax carries the song along with a less somber mood. It is more reminiscent of daybreak than the dark tone the original song created. But the song comes to a very slow and drawn out conclusion with held notes and a final walk off into the sunrise.

Stand Out Track: JJ

BIC Music

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