South Korea 2018 – Part 3 – Underground Electronic Music in Seoul

The instruments of Hasan Hujairi and Itta at 니트 KNEET, Seoul (pic by me)

Introduction to South Korea 2018 blog posts

Summer 2018, I travelled to the International Computer Music Conference (ICMC) in Daegu, South Korea, to present a surround sound version of my techno / classical crossover album Protokols. I was supported by Creative Industries Fund NL in sharing my vision on integrating ancient musical heritage into contemporary (digital) club culture. I extended my stay in South Korea to a full month, so I could immersive myself deeper into the country’s (old and new) music and culture. This gave me the chance to perform twice in Seoul.

Part 1: Daegu – ICMC 2018 Conference
Part 2: Daegu – ICMC 2018 Hack-n-Makerthon
Part 3: Seoul – Underground Electronic Scene
Related post: Reflections on my album Protokols


Summary
This blog post covers weeks 1, 2 and 4 of my trip (Seoul). For week 3 (Daegu) see other posts: ICMC & Hackathon.

My stay in Seoul became a great introduction into the city’s progressive, underground electronic music scene. I experienced the following performances:

July 26thKNEET – 3 electroacoustic artists.
July 27thRegulations – interdisciplinary event.
July 31stUnheard Records – showcase at dotolim.
August 18th KNEET – my solo liveset.
August 19th Strange Fruitmy performance with Scarlett Choi

Somewhere in Seoul (pic by me)

Not in this blog:

August 5-10 International Computer Music Conference 2018, Daegu – see other blog posts.

August 14thNational Gugak Center – on the evening before Gwangbokjeol (National Liberation Day of Korea), I experienced a variety of impressive folklore performances and a shamanistic ritual (I’m planning to write about traditional music in a later blog post).

Here’s a list of all the venues I wanted to visit in Seoul. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to experience all of them, yet. (Thank you Mark IJzerman for your tips!)

KNEET 니트

High on the Itaewon hills of Seoul, in a cosy old neighbourhood, Yohan Han, Dyne Lee and Joan Box Yi run a small underground gallery/performance space called 니트 KNEET (or kneet hole). Minimalist, but not a white cube; the rough-textured “wabi-sabi” walls make a great backdrop for vibrant visual arts and electronic live-setups. I visited twice…

26 July 2018:

Itta presenting her casettes at KNEET, Itaewon, Seoul (photo by me)
Hyoung San JUN (photo by me)

18 August 2018:
I performed a work in progress of my ‘Rituem’ solo electroacoustic live set, which incorporates elements of meditation music, classical music, noise, speedcore, vaporwave and more.

KNEET made a design with my name in hangul and latin scripts (pic by me)
Complete concert registration on Youtube and Soundcloud (video by Yohan Han)

dinner break

Food in the hood (pic by me)
Tourist photo I took near the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Seoul

Regulations

Event visited on 27 July 2018

Actually not a venue, but an organisation, ‘Regulations Experimental Mixed Media Performance’ took over club Alley Sound in Seoul’s Itaewon area, with contemporary dance, live electronics and live-coding.

French-Polish artist Rémi Klemensiewicz, who has been living in South Korea since 2013, played a creative audio-visual set.

Rémi Klemensiewicz at Regulations at Alley Sound, Seoul (pic by me)

BAKÁH aka Mint Park played an energetic and adventurous avant-garde techno set (or so I like to call it!).

The melancholy-infused noise music of Madam Data (Philadelphia, USA) travelled thrillingly between bone chilling vibrations and organic fluctuations.

Madam Data at Regulations at Alley Sound, Seoul (pic by me)

닻올림 dotolim

31 July 2018
Not a living room concert, but an office space concert. Cosy, full of people and fans (air cooling fans). Two birds with one stone: I got to know venue dotolim and label Unheard Records, both representing an attitude of uncompromising exploration and improvisational freedom. Also commendable is Unheard Records’ focus on female and non-binary artists, among others.

Mint Park (co-founder of Unheard Records) and Madam Data were present again, both fusing composition and improvisation. Anders Bach Pedersen‘s use of a voice synthesizer had us peaking into the uncanny near-future. From his hometown of Copenhagen (Denmark), Anders runs the electronic / electracoustic label Wetwear (excellent graphic design too).

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It’s @scmint #avantgardetechno

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Beautiful feedback noises from @madamdata

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#AndersBach from Copenhagen

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Strange Fruit

Strange Fruit Seoul (pic by me)

19 August 2018
Thank you Nathan Jo, for organising this evening:
JEONGJEON / 정전 (analog techno)
Livigesh (minimal techno)
– NWIT (indie rock)
– Rutger Muller & Scarlett Choi (electroacoustic)

At the International Computer Music Conference in Daegu (see other blog post), I met Scarlett Choi, professional multi-instrumentalist in Korean traditional music. After the conference, we both headed back to Seoul. Not long before the gig in Strange Fruit, I sent her a message to ask if she would be interested in playing an electroacoustic duo improvisation with her on Korean gayayeum (koto/zither-like instrument). I was very happy to hear that Scarlett was enthusiastic about it. We rehearsed once in her practice space, and dived straight into the gig the next day.

We performed my contemporary/ambient compositions Processive I & II (2 x 30 min), which I earlier performed either solo or with my Rutger Muller Ensemble (with Wen Chin Fu on cello and Josephine Bode on recorders and vocals). I composed the two pieces to be suitable for classical and spiritual improvisation, but was yet to hear how it would sound with non-western instruments.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtTqUFOuXZc

It was wonderful to experience how Scarlett interacted with the music. We found the right balance, as her Korean improvisational techniques expanded the mysterious atmosphere of Processive. When the was space, I used granular synthesis effects to transform and echo Scarletts’s sound through the space. We were very pleased with the outcome of the concert, and agreed to keep improving this collaboration in the future.

With Scarlett Choi (photo by ?)

Published by Rutger Muller

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