My main knowledge of Kim Il Du came from his time in Genius and during his time in the band, he also released a lot of solo music. Dream in Dream comes from October 2020 and is when I started listening to him again. My oldest memory is Suspens and then I fell off his music. Coming back with this album, Kim Il Du hasn’t changed his foundation, but is exploring the expansion of his music arrangements.
If “Morning Sun” is the first time you’ve heard Kim Il Du, it’s a cross of folk and troubadour themes. “Morning Sun” is mainly his voice and acoustic guitar, then also supported by percussion. The song is relatively stripped to just the necessities and it’s really Kim Il Du’s voice that keeps everything moving. I think he has one of the most recognizable voices and it gets stuck in your head pretty quickly.
“Call It Love” adds an entirely new layer of tones from the electric guitar and the drum sample that repeats throughout the song. His vocals remain strong and constant giving the track the anchor. I think that’s the highlight of Kim Il Du, regardless of the song style, his voice centers every single moment.
Dream in Dream is 10 tracks with three versions of “Hot Fire.” While I think “Hot Fire” is one of the standout songs, I think if this is the first track someone hears, they might think he’s an artist from the 80s. The first version of “Hot Fire” uses a lot of keyboard synth and simple drum rhythms along with some other synth melodies. His voice, as always, is the center of the song, but the instrumental surrounding it is strange, but addictive. The album does have other signature songs, like “Our Campfire,” which is how I remember his music from years ago. “Run all Day” is a great folk track that combines a simple drum track and Kim Il Du’s vocals. “Run All Day” should be one of the first songs to listen to.
Dream in Dream is a very good album. It might sound a bit random at first listen, but there is a cohesiveness to each track that’s built on Kim Il Du’s composition and vocals. I think regardless of the song style, once you hear his voice, you instantly understand what type of music you will be hearing. The album isn’t a tangent or outlier in Korean music, but a strong showcase of talent that’s been making music for years.