Park Jiha – Communion

Album Review | Glitterbeat | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 3/5

This experimental debut solo album by minimalist South Korean musician Park Jiha, known for her work with fellow musician Jungmin Seo in the group 숨[suːm], is rich in atmosphere from the start. Park Jiha’s tonal adventures are composed and performed on such traditional Korean instruments as the piri (double reed bamboo flute), saenghwang (bamboo mouth organ) and yanggeum (hammered dulcimer), revealing some groundbreaking and individualist music based on the traditions of Korea. The piri’s distinctive sound is reminiscent of the crumhorn, the Renaissance period German instrument, although it looks more like a small bamboo whistle about the size of a regular tin whistle. The instrument’s ebbs and flows work particularly well alongside the bass clarinet as exemplified on the title piece, “Communion”. Involved in traditional Korean and classical music from an early age, Park Jiha takes bold steps with this instrumental album in collaboration with Kim Oki on tenor sax and bass clarinet and John Bell on vibraphone, whilst various percussion is added courtesy of Kang Tekhyun. If “Throughout the Night” is reminiscent of the type of sounds you might hear through the sound system that accompanies an art installation in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern, “The Longing of the Yawning Divide” provides us with a beautifully melodic piece, reminiscent of the sort of music Stomu Yamash’ta was producing in the early 1970s. Originally released locally in the winter of 2016, Communion is set to be released through tak:til and Glitterbeat in March 2018.