One of my big introductions to Korean music was Apollo 18. Over the different releases they had, it showed how intense post-rock music could be. Years forward, Apollo 18 has gone dormant with members starting different bands like Pakk. I didn’t know what guitarist Choi Hyunseok was doing musically after Apollo 18 until I started seeing little hints on social media about CHS.
CHS is a jump into an entirely different direction from Apollo 18. The easiest description to me is very laid back beach funk. The band describes themselves as “Tropical psychedelic groove” which is also an excellent description. What’s interesting is that the free form style of CHS (Corea High Soul) follows a lot of what he was doing in Apollo 18.
There aren’t any boundaries with CHS and the length of the songs. With the shortest over four minutes and the longest at over 10, CHS are making groove-focused music that really goes where it wants and brings you along as a listener.
The instrumentals are focused on grooves with added instrumentation like flutes and congos making appearances. Keyboards add a lot of the funk melodies with clean guitar riffs providing the path to follow. Bass adds the necessary low end, but accents a more of the song rather than create hard structure throughout. The drums also feel like they’re made to help support more melodies. They do help set the mood of the song by creating the right tempo.
If anything, CHS are a cleanse from a lot other genres. Jungle Sauna isn’t trying to make a huge statement in terms of what it’s presenting. It makes a statement because it’s really a focus on music through different rhythms and melodies. Rather than need to focus on huge levels of distortion or volume, CHS allow you to enjoy the music as a simple listener. Whether in the foreground or listening in the background, CHS’s EP is something different. It’s also what Korean music needs right now.
Instead of bands copy/paste styles, the exploration of genres is needed. CHS might be at the front of that. Anyone who wants to hear something different from Korean music must listen to CHS. It’s one of the best releases this year, not because it’s different but because it doesn’t try to be. The album really is a collection of musicians wanting to create their preferred music without thinking about anyone else.