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잠비나이 - Jambinai

Jambinai is the best discovery of new music from Korea so far, thanks to Michael Fuhr’s book and recommendation.

This first full album, on “Times of Extinction”, starts powerfully with a heavy, slowly repetitive rocking drive, of acoustic/electric guitar/drums in contrast with the traditional Korean violin sound improvising on top of it, with thoughtful arranged effects of almost cinematic contrasts.

This mode continues with variations of the same heavy effect. In the second track, (“Grace Kelly”) this comes with voice (and distant voiceover) too. The sound is modern, rock related, and still inhabits something definitely eastern too, in the context of real inventive, almost avant-garde form of alt-rock. With reverbs and loops the improvisation unfolds further (“Glow upon closed eyes”) with the same well-produced effects, with a pretty acoustic foundation and attention to spatial effects. The track improvises in a slow repetitive somewhat sadly played waltz, which gets the addition of oscillating rock effects.

“Paramita” in 2 parts starts more meditatively. It slowly improvises with a simple ethno-folk alike acoustic picking theme, hand bell and thunderous oscillating bass and other spatial effects in the background. The energy in it grows like a thundercloud, with percussive colouring clouds. A second quiet part reminds me little of Dire Straits building up quiet moment on “Love Over Gold.” Suddenly the mode changes into an almost ritual with more hammering but still with a slowl rhythm of heavy electric loudness, like a highlighting of nearly freaking out emotion/motion. “Hand of Redemption” makes it even more clear that this previous lymeditative element at this stage inhabits also a youngster’s aggression, as a creative loud expression, with the addition now of a shouting electric voice and doomed electricity. Roaring shrieking clarinets are flying around in it like bats.

On “Empty Pupil” the band slowly slows down again, peeping, vibrating moodily, until the music reaches it’s acoustic picking mode again, while the other instruments add experimental sounds, and one more conclusion is build up. In a way something of Joseph Van Wissem comes to mind, having a rock band, and turning its first ideas into a rock context with fully broadened effect.

Highly recommended. This is the best new Korean album I have heard so far !!

The last track, “Connection” uses an intro of a sort of overlapping clarinets, enriched with electric bass, before returning to the recognisable main theme improvisation rhythm on violin / zither and its rhythmically developing repetitive variations improvisation.

The band had just one mini cd before this one. I hope some day they will be able to make another album. The band already ad an extensive international tour.

Other reviews (Rateyourmusic) : geldofpunk Sep 17 2014 4.00 stars

"Take your normal post-rock: build and release structures with guitar, bass and drums and meld it with traditional Korean folk music. That is Jambinai. The sound here is not only Korean because they still stick to a regular post-rock template but whenever one of those folk instruments kicks in, you know you are listening to something quite different. I love this mix, it is totally unique to my ears and although this will appeal to any fans of post-rock, they've managed to inject flavors from their own country (South Korea) that you don't get to hear every day. Not to mention these wall of noise, they are intense and chill me to the bone. Great album although not everything hits, I could live with never having to hear "Hand of Redemption" again but still, there is a lot of fantastic stuff here."


5thEye Jul 22 2012 3.50 stars

D"ear anonymous person who recommended me this album: I may not know who you are, but apparently you know me all too well—this is pretty damn amazing. 잠비나이 is probably the only Korean band I've ever heard up to this point and apparently I'm missing out on a lot, if it's all as interesting as 차연.

차연 combines heavy post-rock with traditional Korean music, resulting in a pretty crazy fusion the likes of which sometimes remind me of John Zorn-style stuff. You've got your standard guitars, bass, and drums, but there's also some folky-sounding singing and instruments whose names I don't even know (the video for "소멸의 시간" displays one or two though). They have a sort of Mogwai-plus-Godspeed-plus-Boris thing going, if I must compare to other bands, but the added folky elements make it so unique that it's hard to say. (Maybe they sound more like Japanese post-rock such as Mono, but I haven't listened to Mono in ages.)

The songwriting is also pretty diverse—some tracks are very heavy, edging into metal and punk territory, while others are more ambient and traditional post-rock. Most tracks focus on just a couple different riffs and play up a wall of sound with layers of stringed instruments and percussion, and it seems like no matter which style they tackle they do it well. The more ambient and light-post-rock tracks (such as the gorgeous tracks "감긴 눈 위로 비추는 불빛" and "Connection") are standout favorites for me; they have a very beautiful longing mood to them. It's also neat to hear them launch straight from that into something heavy like "구원의 손길"'s aggressive opening.

Simply put, this was exactly the kind of thing that post-rock needs to get out of the slump it's been in for the past decade. And 잠비나이 is doing it exactly right by keeping things really interesting, really unique, and really fresh. Totally worth your time."

Review: Korean Heavy Metal Band Jambinai's Album 'Difference' Is A Wonderful, Weird World Of Sound By Colin Langenus | March 17, 2014 04:26 PM EDT

"Heavy metal truly has no borders. Once you add the heavy metal distortion, that guitar could have been played anywhere. Metal was most likely invented in England, but it spread like wild fire, arguably becoming the most universally popular music worldwide. It's everywhere!

While hip-hop has had a similar worldwide explosion, we know where it came from (the South Bronx) and can easily tell where a rapper is from. As primarily a vocal music, we can hear the language that the MC is rapping in.

But with metal, those drums and guitars could be coming from South America, Asia, Europe or anywhere. And the language the lyrics are in rarely reveals the band's origin in any sort of definitive way.

Yet, metal band Jambinai seems like they could only have come from Korea.

The group, who performed earlier last week at the Austin, Texas-based music festival South By Southwest, combines progressive experimental metal with traditional Korean instruments like the geomungo and haegeum. Gosh, it sounds good together.

And, boy, are they weird!

This music is bonkers. And when I say weird and bonkers, I mean that as high praise. They combine very avant-garde composition and instrumentation to create quite a mood, both dark and welcoming.

Their 2012 record, "Difference," plays like a concept record.

The individual tracks merit their own discussion, but as an album, and I'm a fan of albums, it really sucks you in. When you are listening to Jambinai, you are in their world. Their music is deep.

I think that they have got to be one of the most adventurous bands in the world right now.

There are other experimental metal and even folk metal bands doing it all over the world, but it sure does work in Jambinai's case.

And I think the combination of Korean folk instruments with the screaming guitars and pounding drums fit together particularly well. They hit the nail on the head! How'd they do that?

I particularly like the track "Salvation." They're playing goddamn thrash with the goddamn acoustic traditional instruments! This song also features vocals which sound way weird and awesome. Then they get all repetitive and droney and fucking trippy. Hell yeah!

Another great song on the album is "Connection" which is a good example of their atmospheric pieces.

Both beautiful and triumphant, "Connection" clocks in at almost ten minutes long, and it is worth it. The piece builds and builds, using gorgeous textures and repetition.

It's a fitting close to a great record."

Bella UNion / Universal Music Korea Jambinai : Hermitage - LP/CD- (2016)****'

Compared to Jambinai’s debut the bandy added certain richness in the individual sound energy eruption environment, renewing and increasing the element of using a certain aggressive power mixed with the refinedness of acoustic/electric combinations, swelling and the relaxing and improvisation, performed with ritualistic power and dedicated concentration.

The first few tracks come close in range to more heavy metal-alike noise regions, while acoustic answers are never far away to give it a much richer and much wider context. The simplicity of the ritualistic effect mixed with a certain complexity of sound reminds me a bit of bands like Ovo or Mumbo who, both around 2013, in their small group context created an equally impressive, almost magical, and for them rather dark-spiritual evocation.

A part of Jambinai’s sound is build upon ancient Korean folk instruments brought into a new context. These instruments are the haegum (a Korean fiddle-like instrument), geomungo (or hyeongeum, i.e. "black zither", Korean zither), Piri (a bamboo oboe), the Yanggeum (Korean dulcimer) and the Saenghwang (a pipe organ played as a wind instrument), as well as the Gayageum, a 25-string zither. The sharp clarinet-like sound I heard being used comes close to the Tibetan clarinet used in Buddhist rituals from which the atmosphere at times is coming close to that area too, even without the Buddhist dark mantra-like singing.

A few times fit rap-like elements add a kind of song or story-line atmosphere to it without really breaking its underlying musical mood.

With spatial echoing strings more ways of adding attractive contrasts are found as a means to give the music its own flows, a more improvised evolution. This means this certainly is not just about the sound, a foundation of ritualistic rhythm, the tension and the power of music ; Jambinai also succeeds and still doesn’t miss the element of allowing also the interwoven idea of improvised compositions creating with it a musical story and general composition that still penetrates through and is using its effects along.

Jaminai: Onda (2019)

After I almost was thinking I was listening to somewhat more traditional improvisation, it’s sound quickly turned out to dissolves into hypnotic metal drone jams. In the second track, “Square Wave”, more rhythm evolution and also female singing vocals are added. With more string improvisation on top, its general group sound here reminds of some 90s groups of these alternative music bands with female dreamy vocals. But then it only gets weirder when the band begins to sound like a Mongolian hord, improvising in rolling drones. This mood at times settles down a bit in dreamy passages, but then we’re also always again reminded of the heavier backgrounds too. The track after, “Sun. Tears. Red” starts again slowly, lead by harmony vocals and a simple rhythm building it up, before showing full spectrum once again. “In the woods” changes the mood to melancholy, then sweet melancholy and then evolves into a more asian traditional folk sounding mood wave, developing it in some different parts of emphasis. After 8 minutes, slowly and in repeating mode it builds up once again its louder and heavier mode, but with some restriction. “Small Consolation” is basically an electric picking guitar with whispery voice intermezzo taken as a lead for a bit further improvisation being added to it without destroying the underlying mood. “Onda Prelude” starts like a more medieval-like hurdy gurdy mood improvisation. With the last track the band returns to the sounds of rhythm with female voice in a rather celtic mode. Slowly this is bombarded further with heavier metal-drone sounds and what sounds like a choir with guitars and drums concluding the whole thing. The band grew in international style and should definitely break through on the international market.

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