Every music lover knows that exhilarating feeling when you come across something fresh: something that is different than what you’re used to, but presses all the right buttons nonetheless and welcomes you into an unexplored world of sound. This was my experience discovering Gongjoong Doduk’s recent album, Gongjoong Doduk.
I have never heard anything like Gongjoong Doduk. His music is a mixture of jazz, psychedelic, experimental folk, and rock. On paper, it sounds alienating, but Gongjoong Doduk pulls it off with an almost infuriatingly high level of songwriting and arranging proficiency.
Gongjoong Doduk’s music inhabits a sweet spot between jarring and dreamy. It pushes borders, lets loose, and comes at you with sensory overload, but within a somehow reliable, relaxed, and carefully controlled sound world. Gongjoong Doduk isn’t afraid to introduce a wailing synth in a folk song or gritty voice distortions in pop-inspired sections, but these sonic spices are strategic, visceral, and never gratuitous. Gongjoong Doduk is an intuitive musician who knows where a breath of fresh air might benefit a song, as well as when it is best to stand still in a single texture. As a result, I feel like I can let go as a listener and trust the music to take me along with its bold imagination.
One particular strength of the album is its flavorful percussion writing. There are dozens of rhythmic nuances in each beat – twinkling, crinkling, and irregular tapping sounds from various objects. In general, the album is superbly produced, with great attention to nuance that help make the writing really pop. Beyond technical ability, the album’s melodies are warm and enchanting; they aren’t too sweet or predictable nor too calculated.
I really hope that Gongjoong Doduk can gain more exposure because he is one of the freshest voices in the Korean indie scene that I have yet come across. Their music is both distinctive and technically polished, and offers the listener a lush, charming place to bring their mind for thirty minutes.
Gongjoong Doduk on iTunes.