The Great Dictator is the second full-length album of SKA WAKERS, a Korean ska band consisting of eight members. Given their 10 year music history has included Korean society’s issues with insights, it can be said that SKA WAKERS is a “genuine” ska band; many of whom have been building up their identity in social participation.
The album has a title related to the hottest issue of Korean politics when the album was released, all the tracks have certain messages which look the society and find immediate controversies such as mass production or nuclear power plant construction. They don’t force the listeners to hurry to find the answer or impose their own ideas. Their music and short-but-intense lyrics just throw topics to examine and cheerfully suggest some scraps about how they accept the issues. Particularly I loved that their music is not POLITICAL, which gives pressure to follow certain major opinions, but convince about problematic issues these days with rollicking music where I could EVEN enjoy thinking about those issues which are ordinarily taken very serious and heavy.
The 11 tracks are lavish collaborations between ska and other genres and sounds. Listening to the album, punk, jazz, rock, and even Korean traditional musical influences are found. Moreover, many of the tracks have various sound inserts of TV show, commercial, real speech records, or other familiar sounds we can ordinarily encounter. These many various ingredients, interestingly, don’t crumble and feel messy because the basic frame is firmly based on ska and effectively assimilate those spices to boost up ska music’s fascination. The songs have harmonious compositions and even the lyrics don’t stand out with long storytelling. The vocals are not typical singing, but feel like rather speaking and sometimes shouting, which is more intense and well matched with other factors into one body “ska.”
Listening to their album, I was ceaselessly rocking myself. However, those moves are not empty, momentary excitement. They fully energized me to consider the problems in the music and decide to come to grips with them from now on. I heard “SKA WAKERS” means “those who wake others up by ska music.” I really believe they can be “real wakers” with their shaking waking music.