Park Jiha - Philos LP
Park Jiha's debut album Communion – released internationally by Tak:til in 2018 – drew well deserved attention to the young Korean instrumentalist/composer's vivid sound world. The widely acclaimed album graced 2018 critics lists at The Wire, Pop Matters, and the Guardian. Her new album Philos – which she calls an evocation of her "love for time, space and sound" – is every bit as inventive, elegant, and transcendent as her debut. While Park Jiha's music is often contextualized by its kinship with minimalism, ambient, and chamber jazz, her creative backbone is Korean traditional music. Jiha formally studied both its theory and practice and has mastered three of its most emblematic instruments: Piri (double reed bamboo flute), saenghwang (mouth organ), and yanggeum (hammered dulcimer). On Communion, Park Jiha wove these ancient instruments into an ensemble sound that included other musicians contributing on vibraphone, saxophone, bass clarinet, and percussion. The effect felt revelatory; it seemed to naturally evoke Jon Hassell's "Fourth World" ethos, morphing across time and tradition. Philos is both an extension of, and a swerve away from, her previous record. It shares its predecessor's patience and deeply resonant hypnotic effects. It similarly looks to the future, while continuing to converse with a rich instrumental language from the past. But the overall tone and intent feels much more interior and personal – more rarefied. Whereas Communion featured the classic sound field of a group of musicians playing in a room, Philos trades that for more density and concentration. Each sound has been given the artist's full attention. In Greek, "Philos" is the plural for "philo" which can mean "love" or "the liking of a specified thing." The album's compositions include "Arrival," which slowly introduces every sound featured on the record. The gift of unexpected rain in the heat of midsummer is heard on "Thunder Shower." "Easy" is a poem written and recited by the Lebanese artist Dima El Sayed who visited Korea to participate in the Hwaeom Spiritual Music Ritual and was inspired by Park Jiha's work. The title track "Philos" was created by overlapping sounds and stretching time. "Walker: In Seoul" evokes the vivid soundscape of the city in which Jiha lives. "When I Think If Her" features the ghostly melodies of the yanggeum and saenghwang. Park Jiha reaches for a sturdy simplicity. A borderless connection between her life and her accomplished musical art.