Exposé Online banner

Jambinai — Différance
(Bella Union BELLA632, 2014/2017, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2018-07-03

Différance Cover art

Like many people around the world, I first heard of Jambinai when they played at the Seoul Winter Olympics closing ceremony in February of 2018. I was so intrigued by the combination of Korean traditional instruments and heavy rock that I did some searching online, came up with the name of the band, and bought their music online. Différance was their debut full-length album, originally released in 2014. It won them some awards in South Korea, and they were picked up by the Bella Union label based in London. Since that time, the band has released a second album on Bella Union, and the debut has been reissued — as far as I can tell, the running order of the tracks has been changed from the original release, but the music is the same. The album starts out with a rhythmic figure on the geomungo, a zither related to the Chinese guzheng and Japanese koto. After a few seconds of that, a crushing electric guitar, bass, and drums come in, signalling the band’s intentions to seriously rock. The rock riff is augmented by the geomungo and a melody soars on top played on a haegeum, a bowed instrument resembling the Chinese erhu. “Grace Kelly” is the standout second track, a dissonant, angular rocker with haegeum and taepyeongso (a piercing reed instrument) wailing. There’s a creepy interlude featuring distant female vocals that gradually builds back up to finish out in impressive fashion. On other tracks, they show themselves to be masters of the slow build-up, working from ambient nothingness with superb attention to detail, as on “Glow upon Closed Eyes”) where distant washes of sound back a meditative melody from the geomungo for four minutes before an acoustic guitar appears, leading into drums and bass under a slow, stately melody that works into a crashing intense finale for the last half minute. I’m reminded occasionally of the Chinese group Zhaoze due to the general similarity in style and the fact that the geomungo sounds a lot like a guqin. One difference is that Jambinai does occasionally feature vocals, and when they occur during the heavier sections, they are intense screams, briefly morphing the band into a kind of Asian death metal — but those times are not frequent, merely the capstone of the upper end of the band’s dynamic range. “Hand of Redemption” is one such time, four and a half minutes of snarling, distorted punk metal with heavily effected vocal ranting and chugging rhythms from both electric guitar and geomungo. Bet that’s one you’ve never heard before! In short, this band is one I think a lot of listeners of experimental rock should enjoy — it’s full of surprises and unique combinations of sounds.


Filed under: Reissues, 2017 releases, 2014 recordings

Related artist(s): Jambinai

More info
http://jambinai.bandcamp.com/album/differance

Latest news

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more

2019-01-02
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more

2018-12-23
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

When - Prefab Wreckage & Gynt – When is essentially a solo vehicle for Lars Pedersen (half of The Last James duo) in which he explores dark ambient realms. It's pretty hard to believe that this is the same guy who worked on...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues