Monday, October 8, 2012

JINBO - 2012 - KRNB

Electrosoul/Pop Remix
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As a Korean, sometimes I wonder what it is about our pop music that has recently captured so many people’s attention worldwide. My more cynical comrades paint a picture of immature fanboys fawning over the admittedly gorgeous legs of Girls Generation’s goddesses to justify their antipathy towards shallow drivel like “Gee”. But as Korean R&B artist Jinbo shows, there must be something about the music too: his moody, trippy interpretations of Korean pop classics reveal surprisingly vulnerable characters that come off as immediately relatable despite their transfer to another medium.
The first track, a remix of Kim Gun-mo’s “Red Umbrella”, almost sounds like music for a wedding in 2028: soaring synths twirl and soar across a beat that wouldn’t be out of place on the playgrounds of jumproping elementary schoolgirls, a rhythm that makes JINBO’s puppy-dog pleas for romance even more winning. JINBO proves an adept vocalist throughout, a chameleon who can adapt his voice to fit any mode, be it wide-eyed awe or hazy seduction. He’s assisted throughout by an entire storehouse’s worth of instruments, from the lounge piano and faux orchestra that ground the soulful “I Knew” to the futuristic, chopped beat machine that drives the pounding, Daft Punk-esque “Best Friend”.
For those uninitiated to the backlog of Korean pop, the album is a legitimately thrilling affair, and those wary of the quality of the source material need not be worried; even when JINBO adapts populist hits like Girls Generation’s “Gee” and BoA’s “Love Game”, he fills in the personal details of these pop stars, those wounded heroes and heroines we all secretly look up to. That KRNB is a novel approach to old material rather than a novelty is the highest compliment I can pay it—and the pained, honest voice that brought it to life.

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