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
My stay in Seoul became a great introduction into the city’s progressive, underground electronic music scene. I experienced the following performances:
July 26th – KNEET – 3 electroacoustic artists.
July 27th – Regulations – interdisciplinary event.
July 31st – Unheard Records – showcase at dotolim.
August 18th – KNEET – my solo liveset.
August 19th – Strange Fruit – my performance with Scarlett Choi
Not in this blog:
August 14th – National 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!)
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:
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.