The Land of the Morning Calm

As I am currently residing in Korea I thought it appropriate to share some of the stellar music that comes out of this country.  The fantastic blog G’Old Korea Vinyl has dug deep into Korea’s music history and come up with some real gems.  From the 60’s through the 90’s Korean artists were churning out funk, disco, psych-rock, blues and everything in between; most of it is rarely heard outside the country.  G’Old Korea’s recently released mixtape (as well as their first one) hopes to remedy that, as the tape includes a feast of tunes encompassing myriad genres.  Below I highlight some of my favorite finds from their stash.  Please go here and here to download the full original tapes.  The original bloggers deserve all the credit.

Kim Jung Mi – My Beautiful Land (1973)

Kim Jung Mi is considered one of Korea’s psychedelic folk masters.  Her 1973 album “Now”, which featured Shin Jung-Hyeon on guitar, was a fuzzed out treasure trove.  She often sings with a smoky seduction but her falsetto also bursts through on the chorus of “My Beautiful Land”.

Shin Jung Hyun & Yup Juns – Nothing to Say (1974)

I feel foolish to just be discovering this man’s guitar work.  He is regarded as one of the best Korean guitarists of all time, and for good reason.  On this particular tune his distorted shredding drives the psych-rock jam into epic territories.  The shoddy mixing is also stellar.  It gives the sound a rawness that is always welcome and impossible to fake.

Peace and Love – I Can Not Talk (1979)

A great example of Korea’s vibrant funk and soul scene throughout the 70’s.  Peace and Love have a distinct funk vibe (that bassline is money) but the blues are also fundamental to the sound.  I-Chul Choi brings the kind of silky smooth voice you only really find in Asia.  This combination makes for a tune that has been on repeat for quite a while now.

Kim Trio – Pier (1979)

Kim Trio – Good Girl (1980)

Kim Trio might be the best of the bunch.  “Pier” sports a spaced out synth and a funky bassline, resulting in something like a Korean, psychadelic Dire Straits.  Meanwhile, “Good Girl” could have been a Stereolab song.  Basically, they are fantastic and I can’t wait to dive into some of their other work.

Kim Wan Sun- The Dance in that Rhythmn (1987)

This tune has strands of disco, house, and dream-pop.  It has the kind of retro gauziness that artists go to great lengths to try and replicate today.  The voice is fantastic and there is an over the top guitar solo.  Can’t ask for more.

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