I’ve known of Ash from his many different musical works from Sugardonut and LudiSTELO so it was surprising to hear of a new project. Animal Divers consists of Ash and HyunJO. The difference between Animal Divers and pretty much any other band is that combination of didgeridoo and handpan with guitars and synth.
While it’s possible to mark the songs of Animal Divers as “electronic world music,” it’s much farther than that. It’s a combination of different soundscapes brought together and creating a new kind of audio universe. I wouldn’t think the didgeridoo could sync so well with other instruments and not drown out separate melodies, but that’s possible in the songs of Animal Divers.
Monsoon could have easily been a cut-copy-and-paste album, following the same melodic composition and arrangements, but HyunJo and Ash create songs that fill up all available audio space and still remain interesting.
With the didgeridoo and handpan, there’s a complex relationship between organic sounds mixed alongside guitar and synth elements, especially the percussion. But Animal Divers have a careful balance in the arrangements that sounds effortless.
It’s honestly difficult to describe any of the band’s songs and be accurate in the description. The one overall descriptor is that Animal Divers doesn’t transpose Korean music style into the music, but pulls back further and brings in a more holistic audio energy. Just listen to “Humanimals.”
Every song title has some connection with nature and the earth. “Jackfish Storm” is a track that you get a full introduction to the potential of the didgeridoo and how the guitar can support it rather than cover it. Even when it goes into a broader melodic line, there are still specific moments that highlight the organic nature of Animal Divers, even when it’s supported by a lot of synth elements.
Even though Animal Divers is a duo, the music created is complex and mixing the two genres together into something that sounds new but also familiar is impressive. As each song title carries the elements of the song itself, it’s great to hear a break in “Air.” It’s a track that really lets you hear the handpan as the primary instrument, supported by other layers. Even though there’s so much going on in the track, it still feels light and like you’re drifting.
For electronic music fans, there’s a lot to like on Monsoon. It’s a thoughtful approach to combining different and separate elements together and still creating something cohesive and powerful. The handpan and didgeridoo might be known instruments worldwide, but I’ve never heard of them being used in music outside of traditional songs.
Animal Divers are following a newer path of bridging instruments and exploring new ways to create music that can be appreciated by more than one audience. Monsoon is a nature-influenced album, but you’re also jumping into a different world once you start listening.