I have seen videos of DongYang Gozupa performing but only really got into them when I saw their second full length, KYUL, release. Danny wrote about Surface back in 2019 which I unfortunately missed, but getting into DongYang Gozupa with this album isn’t a bad place to start.
Comprised of yanggeum, bass, and percussion, DongYang Gozupa sits in a similar world of Jambinai, Haepaary, and other bands who integrate traditional Korean instruments into other genres to create hybrid audio experiences. What’s great about these bands is that they are creating music that’s a connection of the past to the present. It takes a lot of talent and precision to precisely lift the unique sounds of traditional instruments and merge them with contemporary instruments.
As an instrumental experience, DongYang Gozupa uses the yanggeum to create the melody with the bass helping reinforce specific notes. DongYang Gozupa’s percussion isn’t a standard drum kit, but a customization of different percussion instruments to help add an enhancement to the entire sound. “Critical point” is the easiest entry to DongYang Gozupa, but then I think “Cycle” is the band’s calling card. The almost 10-minute song is a fury of rhythms. It definitely shows the necessary expertise to play and perform.
It’s obvious that DongYang Gozupa isn’t just rock music, purely based on the instruments they use. At times it’s almost orchestral, shoegaze, post rock, or metal. The organic paths that each song moves through create a different experience. What DongYang Gozupa does best is create a visible world through their music. Their point of view, shown through the three members, is deliberate and fascinating. You get drawn in and they don’t let you go.
The use of traditional Korean instruments in modern music feels like it’s growing. Pansori vocals are becoming more common, traditional tones and rhythms are implemented more, and this step of creating something new with old is another chapter in Korean music. DongYang Gozupa is creating their own path and it’s one to follow.