In a surprise email, hanbee sent a message to Korean Indie after I followed BLEE on Instagram. I found BLEE through their music video published Mirrorball Music’s YouTube channel. She messaged to introduce both BLEE and her solo work which lead me to listen to her first EP, in and out.
The five song EP, composed, arranged, and recorded by herself, reminds me a lot of DAJUNG. hanbee is a solo artist creating her own soundscapes with bridges to her own influences. in and out has a specific tone and perspective that plays out with the songs.
“love or lust?” is a melancholy track, almost a mix between a diary and introspective poem. hanbee’s vocals are simple, gliding along with a guitar and keyboard. The minimalism continues throughout the majority of the song with an interesting mid-track cassette filter where hanbee uses dialogue. “love or lust?” has a wandering tone and I think that’s the entire point. It’s a stream of consciousness that gives the song its depth even with simple repetition.
The end of “love or lust?” flows into “true love” naturally. The added page-turning sound effect opens to another slow tempo bedroom pop-style song. hanbee also continues her mellow vocals. The addition of the drum track and bass opens up and adds more dimension. “true love” gives the impression that hanbee recorded the vocals late at night and built the instrumental structure to help the song move from verse to verse.
“love or lust?” and “true love” were presented with English vocals and hanbee makes the switch to Korean and English on “homesick.” This track adds more instrumental layers. From bigger keyboard emphasis, the percussion rhythms, and added synth tones give a wider lense on hanbee’s arrangement abilities. There is a simplicity to her music, but I think that’s a deliberate approach to her style. I do think she might be overly fond of low key vocals which continue on the third of five songs.
in and out’s song progression has to be deliberate because every song adds a little more than the previous track. “doubt” has slightly more vocal variety with the instrumentals moving into a more electronic ambient world. “doubt”‘s mix allows both the vocals and instrumentals live comfortably so neither is buried. “doubt” feels like a transition track, which is a little difficult among five songs.
Guitar reenters the instrumentals on “growth.” There’s a bit more of an indie pop tone provided by the electric guitar. “growth” overall has a cleaner tone with hanbee’s vocals coming across without filtering. This is the song where you hear more of her vocal potential that’s hidden on her other songs. I don’t think hanbee needs to decide on a specific music genre as her blending is enjoyable, but it would be nice to hear a larger range that sounds entirely possible.
in and out is a strong first EP. The progression from “love or lust?” to “growth” has a wide berth. hanhee could easily go into bedroom electronic pop or singer-songwriter indie rock, but maybe genre-blending is where her strength will lie. There’s a lot to enjoy and she’s definitely shown potential to move into a wider audio universe.