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김수철 - Kim Soo-Chul (Little Big Man)

My introduction to my interest into Korean music culture started with the 'Soponye'-movie, which was accompanied by traditional music reintroduced with interpretations by Kim Soo Chul:

'Soponye' is a movie that changed my life and made me open to Korea and its music. The soundtrack is partly (half Western) classical music mixed with Korean folk elements and a somewhat different ? folk version of the pansori singing style. Styllistically in the movie it reminded me of the gypsy travel and evolution where flamenco might come from, a very different perspective on something universal.

'Pansori' is a kind of folkopera film style with long folkstories translated into a kind of poetry-music story telling, simply accompanied by hand drum.

In the movie and this soundtrack you hear the struggle of a perfectionist father and the grieve the music has as foundation. The soundtrack CD isn't as good to see separate from the movie, because you miss the context and story of the movie.

The last track is where brother and sister meet again (-the sister was blinded by her father after the brother's departure, also in attempt to turn her back to singing with more inside emotion of grief-). The now grown-ups didn't see each other for years, and instead of going for their recognition of each other, they just only sang together, not being able to be confronted otherwise with their grieve connected to the whole story of their life.

Except for some other movie soundtracks, the composer strangely enough made also some more mainstream poprock and folkpop music. So I asume that while the pansori is traditional, the additional soundtrack music is Simkoochuls, which combines well here. There's also a strength of performance of singer / performers of the pansori.

Folkie Jin : "SOPYONJE is a Western Style soundtrack album, and marks the first time this approach was used in the Korean music industry. Prior to the So-pyon-je's release, Korean movie music was only a collection of songs and as such lost much of the connection to the movie. So-pyon-je tells the story of a Korean family of traveling musicians. It follows the main characters through childhood and into early adult life. Set around the time of the Korean Civil War, the story shows the characters's struggle to survive in a time of rapidly changing cultural values. There are happy times along with incidents of great loss and personal tragedy, all of which are complimented with this powerful and emotional soundtrack. Both the movie and the soundtrack won multiple awards both domestically and internationally. Awards included, "Best Picture"of the year at the 1994 Singapore International Film Festival! (was from his home page :"

More on composer :

folkie Jin comments: "This music director Kim Soo Chul was leader of Little giant which was great Korean psych band in early 80s. He was a genius about Rock music and guitarist but he tried to popularize the Korean traditional music after he talked with some foreigner. Someday, he played psych rock music on some stage and after it he meet a foreigner. He asked to Kim Soo Chul " Hey Mr.Kim now your plaing music is not ou r country music and it is western music. Please listen to your country music."

"The term pansori is derived from the Korean words pan, meaning “a place where many people gather”, and sori for “song” "

This is a good box with some of the movies from this extremely talented filmmaker. Soponye and Chunyang are both essential movies that show the essence of the Pasonri music style and the stories involved in it.

Spononye and Chunyang show the essence of Korean music, perfectly worked out into a movie while both had been entirely based upon the two most known preserved folk opera stories of Korean heritage. Watching both movies is highly essential to get a grip upon them.

Box content : DVD Come Come Come Upward = Aje aje bara aje (1989), DVD Sopyonje = Seopyeonje (1993),

The Taebaek Mountains =Taebek sanmaek (1994), DVD Festival = Chukje (1996), DVD Chunhyang (2000)

The composer's work in short (fragments of a radio show) :

This is a real rock effort in western styles. Half of the tracks are hard rock driven, in a pompuous and teenage hardrock way, often on simplistic rhythms. Other half are uninteresting poprock song efforts, occasionally with English lyrics. Fourth track is a calm moody guitar track. Not really succesful.

The first two tracks are Pop/Rock songs, with some funky guitar, disco,..(Little Big Man ?), also following tracks are mostly rather mainstream poprock, except for the 5th, 9th and 14th track which are acoustic tracks.

This is more like it. This is original film music with a personal style : Korean traditional elements and instruments (flute, whistle instrument, some string instrument, percussion, vocals) are combined with some (New Age like) keyboards or orchestrated keyboards and with acoustic guitar. The Korean instruments have an incredibly melancholic and sad sound. The music has a certain essential slow movement and simplicity and is very moody. 5th track has Korean percussion mixed with keyboard ideas, and funky electric guitar mixed with a traditional string instrument. An original combination of tradition with the modern world. Best work I've heard from Kim Soo-Chul so far.

(PS. Hwang Chol = Hades).

* Kim Soo Chul - The Road to Hwang Chon : 1. The Road to Hwang-Chon (5:27), 2. "Han" (4:03), 3. The Vagabond (3:54), 4. A Sad Sound (7:15), 5. The Lonely Road (5:50), 6. Longing for Home (5:10), 7. Conflict (5:06), 8. Poongmul (6:23)

Slowly evolving moody filmic music with ethno-gothic keyboards combined with some Korean instruments. This music has similarities in idea with the 'Road to Hwang Chon', but this is much more like real filmmusic.

First track is keyboard driven gothic-rock filmmusic. Like the previous albums this is another attempt to make Korean folkmusic more modern. Here the keyboard sound a bit too gothic and home-recorded neo-melodic to convince me even slightly.

* Kim Soo Chul - Pal Man Dae Jang Kyung : 1. The gathering storm (07:03), 2. The tides of battle (11:42), 3. Journey to valhalla (05:56), 4. At st. peter's gate (16:12)

Mr.Kwang : "He started music career as Rock Band, late of 1970's. His rock band was good enough, did also some Pop-Rock which made him even a TV Star. His outfit is not very good for entertainer, anyway his music was good & he did several works. He has done several OSTs for TV drama & Movie. He released too many albums, over 30, and all of them are over average to great. But his best work & life object is, "Let Korean Traditional Music be Modernized." He made it fusion with Rock / New Age / Ambient, and much more. You might think about Oathean or Kim Do Kyun, if we talk about Korean Traditional Music & Rock fusion. But believe me. Kim Soo Chul did it much earlier, and did it much better. He released over 30 albums, and now, his own company re-releases it. Re-released CDs are only 10, not all of his past works."

This soundtrack is comparable to his other one, “Soponye”, and is a very good filmic introduction to Korean traditional music, to prepare a mainstream public, in a form that could reach a whole wide area of music lovers.

The first track is led by Korean clarinet, the second by Korean violin, the third by flute, all also accompanied by texturing keyboards, and the third track by acoustic guitar too. Then we have a real Pansori track (singing, hand drum rhythms and some texturing bells).

Extra arrangements include an exotica hayhayhay backing choir baritone singing. The next track is led by Korean clarinet only, continuing the descriptive emotions further, each track working very consistently together.

This continues with sparse and somewhat orchestrally arranged keyboard arrangements. Then keyboard strings and acoustic pickings continue the atmosphere with the clarinet leading further. The next track is drum percussion led with special sounds of arranged keyboards.

The last track is very different. It concludes the score with a funky rock track with funky guitars and rock guitars and keyboards/drums improvising in a funk/rock way on the traditional tune on Korean violin. It also has some wilder blues solo on electric guitar.

Making this kind of accessible accompanying music to introduce Korean folk music pretty much is Kim Soo Chul’s strongest achievement, and this album remains one of his most successful in that formula.

It is paired with his “One Man Band” release, which is not really the same because this is from his home studio, solo with songs accompanied by texturing keyboards, some drum machine and some tracks with funky keyboards and electric guitar.

For not understanding any of the lyrics, the songs still sound a bit too much as entertaining itself with obvious chords and lack of emotional richness. Most of this sounds really OK, but it can’t attribute much to the music scene outside the Korean song music context.

* 무당 - 2집 멈추지 말아요 [블루 컬러 LP] [ 180g / 350장 한정반 / 디지털 리마스터링 ]무당 밴드 | 사운드트리 / 사운드트리 | 2020년 08월 13일

* 무당 - 2집 멈추지 말아요 [LP] [ 180g / 150장 한정반 / 디지털 리마스터링 / 블랙 디스크 ]무당 밴드 | 사운드트리 / 사운드트리 | 2020년 08월 13일

* 김수철 / 작은 거인 - 2집 별리 / 어쩌면 좋아 [그레이 컬러 LP] [ 180g / 350장 한정반 / 디지털 리마스터링 / OBI & 라이너 노트 수록 ]

* 김수철 / 작은 거인 - 2집 별리 / 어쩌면 좋아 [LP] [ 180g / 150장 한정반 / 디지털 리마스터링 / OBI & 라이너 노트 수록 ]



Kim Soo Chul's music is much more directed application music for its purpose of accompaniment of movies or a certain mood creation, which succeeds while this does not work the same way if to pick these out as musical records. In that way I would prefer not to review them as such.

See Also Little Big Man.

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