Monday, November 4, 2013

[mixtape liner notes] stero, a particular story of reincarnations.

First up: stero. listen to it here.

1. Stero | 투명 (TwoMyung)
2. 백야 (White Night) | Nell
3. 잔혹한 여행 (Cruel Voyage) original song by Han Hee Jung | Casker
4. 세상이 끝나려고 해 (The World is about to End) | eAeon
5. History of Love | Trampauline
6. Fantasy | Ironic Hue
7. 소나기 (Sonagi) | 몽니 (Monni)
8. 꿈 (somewhere we belong) | googolplex
9. 우리는 어쩌면, 만약에 (we, perhaps, if) feat. Yoonsang | Toy
10. 그 사내 (That Man) | 정차식 (Jung Cha Sik)
11. 여기서 그대를 부르네 (Calling You From Here) | Lucid Fall
12. 잊는다 (Forgetting) | 망각화 (Manggakwha)
13. 너무 아픈 사랑은 사랑이 아니었음을 (A Love Too Painful Could Not Have Been Love) | 김광석 (Kim Kwang Suk)
14. 향 (비의 연상에서) (Scent - Reminiscent of Rain) | 잠 (Zzam)

This mixtape was largely inspired by two friends of mine (Avery and Jenny) who thought using moonassi's art as album covers for mixtapes about reincarnations was a great idea. It was, and I decided to join the party with one of my own. (You can check out their mixes here and here.)

Reincarnation is a very fascinating trope and something that makes me really sad. And when I'm sad I make mixtapes. This time, I wanted to tell a story of a love carried on through reincarnations (can you tell that I was very much influenced by this story about reincarnations?); two people find themselves falling in love over and over again through time, through different lifetimes. But this mix is dedicated to all the lifetimes where they aren't happy. Lifetimes where they don't fall in love. Lifetimes where they don't even meet each other. Lifetimes where they are too late.

First track: TwoMyung's "Stero". Stero means "they stood still" in Latin. I thought that was so perfect for this mix, because it goes so well with the cover art I chose, and also since this mix tells the story of the lifetimes where they stood still, not able to do anything about each other. I also love the song, it's a perfectly eerie prelude to a generally sad series of songs.

Second track: Nell's "White Night". Basically you can't have a Korean mixtape about reincarnations without Nell's "White Night". 
in this endless time, in all of this space / it's filled with your thickly colored breaths
And ultimately:
I can't get over you / you just keep shining on and on through my time 
Perfect song to really start this off. I feel like this song is really about reincarnations whereas the other songs may not explicitly be about reincarnations.

Third track: Casker's remediation of Han Hee Jung's "Cruel Voyage". Han Hee Jung's original song is beautiful too, but I thought Casker's glitchy and extra-gloomy cover was more fitting with the flow of this mix.
then, what made me move and speak / I just wanted to share everything with you 
you, oh you, like a voyage, you left me on a shining day / love, oh love, a cruel voyage, my one last trip  
something we shared made us part ways / I just wanted to share everything with you 
The song speaks of something unknown that made their love impossible, despite the character's desires to fulfill this love. Also I love the metaphor of a voyage incorporated into the song - because these two are stuck in this never-ending, almost cruel voyage through time. She vouches that this will be the last time this will happen. Next time, they will get it right.

Fourth track: eAeon's "The World is about to End". He sings of the world coming to an end and his last thoughts as it unfolds before his eyes. ("the world is about to end / without knowing whose fault it is / the world is about to end") The character's sorry that they didn't get to know everything about themselves ("I'm sorry I didn't get to know everything about us").  And this line in particular - "어쩌면 우리 모두 다시 만나겠지" which translates to:
perhaps we will all meet again
Fifth track: Trampauline's "History of Love". This song is more upbeat compared to the others. And fully in English. I haven't ever listened to this song much, but the title grabbed my attention while I was going through my library searching for songs. "History of Love" sounded like a perfect alternative title to this mix, as it is a history of two people in love. And then I paid more attention to the lyrics and I realized that this song had to be on the mix:
angels above can't declare / as I sit here and stare / at flames going away inside of me / you see I can't compare / the feelings in between / to the one that once blew my mind away 
like in a boxing ring, no way out / you said go, I said yeah / it's a foreign language we're talking about / you don't say no, so I linger linger linger / still dance to it anyway / can't stop dancing to it anyway / could it be history of love
I thought this song was good with continuing the story from the previous song - the world came to an end, and in the afterlife, they meet briefly before their next lifetimes start. "You said go, I said yeah". "you don't say no, so I linger". And without fully understanding what's going on, they "still dance to it anyway" while they have the time. I think they both briefly have the idea of what this is ("could it be history of love?"), but before too long, they are sent on their separate paths.

Sixth track: Ironic Hue "Fantasy". Another lifetime. And one half of the bond is beginning to realize, or perhaps remember?
your absolute movements I can feel with the tip of my fingers / draw me in / in the slow-moving crowd / your fragile and faint gaze 
Perhaps she remembers the touch, resonated through multiple lifetimes.
adding onto me / adding onto you 
the truth at the top of the tower of illusions / unable to fill despite trying / realizing that thing is you 
Trying to fill in the gaps, she searches for the "the truth at the top of the tower of illusions" and tries to fill in the gaps. And in the end she realizes that she is seeking out the other. But the missing pieces are too big, she is unable to paint the full picture. Another lifetime where they don't meet each other at all.

Seventh track: Monni's "Sonagi". Sonagi is a type of rain that doesn't really have an equivalent word in English. (Think a sudden shower, it's that kind of a rain). This is the life where he finds the other a bit too late.
where are you now / laughing somewhere in the heavens 
Eight track. googolplex's "Dream (somewhere we belong)". I actually couldn't find lyrics to this song and the vocals are too distorted to really understand what the lyrics are saying. But I thought the the title of the song fit well with the theme. That somewhere they belong. Also I really like the sound of this song.

Ninth track: Toy's "We, Perhaps, If" featuring Yoonsang. This song is mainly about two lovers who have broken up, but the opening lyrics to this song are so apt I just had to include it in this mix:
we might have missed each other at the same time without knowing 
we might have walked past each other on the same street without realizing  
Tenth track: Jung Cha Sik with "That Man". This song is one of the most heartbreaking songs I know. The way he sings it, and the poetic lyrics. Everything is just so sad. This song is for the lifetime where he remembers, very clearly, but cannot do anything about these memories or the person he is doomed to love. He cannot tell anyone about these memories that haunt him constantly, and he tries to drown them in himself, trying to force himself to forget.
what others may easily forget / I still remember
 songs of the past / excuses of the past / drinks of the past / bodies of the past / remembering them, I turn red 
it's all a wind of the past 
Eleventh track: Lucid Fall's "Calling You from Here". I'll just suggest to check the entire lyrics to the song, which I've translated ages ago and posted here. This is the more hopeful lifetime. It's that lifetime they spend seeking out each other. They haven't met yet, but this might be the life where they will meet eventually.
early morning comes closer / and tells me of your news.
that from far away / you are also calling out my name
Twelfth track: Manggakwha's "Forgetting". After multiple happy lifetimes, they're back to another life spent longing for each other but unable to find each other. This song is about him dreaming over and over again about the other person and becoming tired of dreaming about them. And the dreams stop. And he forgets.
I entrust it to my memories / I couldn't stop the time from flowing / fading feelings and the regrets / your hand I hold onto, your memories I hold onto, now / forget, forget, I forget 
Thirteenth track: Kim Kwang Suk's "A Love Too Painful Could Not Have Been Love". This is one of my favourite songs of all time. Such heartfelt lyrics - even just the title gets me feeling really melancholy. Putting this song into this particular context (most of the song is about a past love), the last verse is what convinced me to include this song as the last track (with lyrics) in this mix:
now let's never come to this world for love / let's bury words of longing, an unfulfilled love / because a love too painful could not have been love
This is where they make the promise to "never come to this world for love". They both realize how painful it is to come back over and over again just to long for each other. Because yes, a love that is too painful could not have been real love.

I like to end my mix with instrumental tracks, so the last track of this mix is Zzam's "Scent (reminiscent of rain)". It has that creepy vibe similar to the opening track of the mix. Which may or may not suggest at how the cycle will repeat all over again, despite the promise made in the last song/lifetime ("let's never come to this world for love...")

[mixtape liner notes] an introduction.

Hi stranger, it's been a while, hasn't it? But no worries. I've been thinking some more about this little space and I have some neat things I want to do with it that I'm excited to carry out. Everything, like always, is still up in the air but here's the first tentative step.

So this is a new corner of the blog: mixtape liner notes. If you follow me on other social media platforms you may be familiar already, but I love making mixtapes, and I am constantly making them. By mixtapes I mean playlists of songs created by other artists. I post my mixtapes on 8tracks, which is a pretty cool site that I've really come to adore. (My profile on 8tracks is here!)

Well, what I've realized is that most of my mixes have cohesive themes. Sometimes one song will inspire me to start a mix, and sometimes I will have a theme for a mix and compile songs with that theme. But the point is, I always want to talk more in detail about these mixes I create, to explain why I picked each song, because I (try to) put a lot of thinking into why each song is on that certain mix.

Hence this new series. The series is aptly titled I think, because these blurbs I spill on this blog will serve as liner notes of sort for mixes I create, and hopefully provide a space for me to talk in detail about my mixtapes. Today I'm going to start with my most recent mix, but I really want to revisit some of my previous mixtapes as well, so expect more posts for this series in the future!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

summer album haul.

All the albums I manage to haul over the summer while I was in Korea! I haven't even had the chance to listen to all of them. It's sort of sad because I didn't even get to buy all the albums I meant to buy because I kept buying albums on a whim whenever I went to a show... and by the end of summer I didn't have enough money to buy the albums that  were actually on my to-buy list. Oh well. I'll probably have another album haul some time near Christmas...

From top to bottom, left to right:
First row: Nell - Escaping Gravity | Kumca - ShuShu | Broken Valentine - Aluminum | Johann Electric Bach - Zynthar | Loro's - Pax | Sultan of the Disco - The Golden Age
Second row: Fantastic Drugstore - Dance With Me | Galaxy Express - Galaxy Express | Broken Valentine - Shade | Rubystar - Invitation | Black Bag - Beyond The Sky | Vodka Rain - Flavor
Third row: Mongoose - Girlfriend | Brian Cho - My Feet Don't Touch The Ground (And I'm So Winded I Can't Sing For You Today) | Ju Yoon Ha - On The Way Home | Broccoli You Too - Cruel April Demo | Blues, The Compilation | The Lads  - 청춘 
Fourth row: Jung Cha Sik - 격동하는 현재사 | Band Sae - Spinny | Telefly - Ultimate Psychedelic | Glen Check - Haute Couture | Jung Jae Il - Incendies | 3rd Line Butterfly - Nine Days Or A Million
Fifth row: Danpyunsun - Virgin | Seedless Watermelon Kim Dae Joong - Seedless Watermelon | Telefly - Avalokitesvara | Thornapple - 나는 자꾸 말을 더듬고 잠드는  법도 잊었네 | Asian Chairshot - Mask | Dear Cloud - Bright Lights 

Both Broken Valentine albums and the Thornapple album are autographed! The Thornapple album is my baby, I'm so glad I had the chance to get it autographed from them. Eleven albums from above were released this year and some may make it onto my best of 2013 list at the end of the year, there are some real gems. I believe the first Broken Valentine album, the Vodka Rain album, Jung Jae Il album and the 3rd Line Butterfly album are out of print so I guess I'm lucky to have come across them. I actually had to hunt down the Jung Jae Il album, thank god the one bookstore that had it was close to where I was staying...

Monday, September 2, 2013


It's currently nearing 5am on a Sunday night and I had a sudden urge to blog so I got out of bed and took some shitty pictures with my phone.

I could go on talking about how I haven't updated in so long because I was busy, there were other things going on, blah blah blah, but all of that I've said countless times before, for other blogs and other projects. I should apologize to certain individuals though, who requested album reviews, or interviews, or whatever, because I've completely ignored that too. Maybe I'll get to them, maybe I won't, I don't know. But I apologize. 

I've thought about it a lot in the last few months, on why I was shying away from writing on this blog and I realized that this particular blog has turned into something very different than what I've expected when I initially started it. 

Strange Seasons started out as a strictly personal blog, an extension of my tumblr, where I could blab on freely about all sorts of things ranging from deeply personal things to opinion pieces more relevant to a broader audience. But in the last few posts I've started to really funnel this into one specific area, and I never meant to do that. Before long, I was in too deep, engrossed in something that I didn't quite completely understand. That really embarrassed me, I was becoming more self-conscious of what I was saying, and I guess that started to take a toll. 

So I guess in a way I'm starting again. I won't delete the blog or its content or anything, but hopefully, if things go according to plan, the type of posts I make on here will be more varied from now on. Regardless of what people may expect or want, I plan on only blogging about things I want to blog about. 

Meanwhile, I don't know what kind of people visit this blog and I'm pretty sure most just stumble across it and never return, but just in case anybody is interested, here is my instagram, which I update more often. 

Now onto those crappy pictures I just took. (Thank god for smartphones.) 

Just finished reading
Mysterious Skin by Scott Heim.
The movie is one of my favourite movies ever (although it makes me feel guilty whenever I say it, due to the subject matter) and the book was also a great - albeit heart-breaking - experience. This story really hurts. This is a fictional story - but it's probably reality to many, somewhere out there. And that really hurts me. 

Currently on repeat: 
Asian Chairshot - 탈춤 (Mask Dance) 
I started writing an album review for this magnificent EP but I was stuck on the first line. I don't know where to start. Maybe I'll figure it out and post that review, maybe I'll never figure it out and it won't see the light of the day. But this, this. Such great sounds. Must listen. 

Also: the illustration for the album isn't my favourite (a bit too grotesque for my tastes, although it does suit their sound), but I loved the calligraphy for the credits. 

The quality of pictures are horrendous but I was too lazy (as always) to get out my DSLR. Oh, by the way, I have a new DSLR. Since investing in it I've made it my goal to blog more often. We'll see about that though. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

[korean music in 2012] part 2: top 20 albums

Finally! And out of sheer laziness, once again I'm posting the yearly review post in mid January. Wow. Maybe one of these days I'll actually post them before the year's over. (Probably not.)

This is the best albums post. It took me a lot longer than expected because I kept finding music from 2012 that I haven't listened to yet, and I wanted to check them out before making the list. And then I ran into the problem of narrowing the list down, which was extremely difficult. I knew my top 5 albums, but there were so many other albums I thought were worth talking about. In the end, since I couldn't narrow it down to 10 (+3) like last year, I decided to go with 20 albums. This is what I consider 20 of the most notable albums from 2012. I listened to roughly 110-120 Korean albums this year, including EPs and compilations. The album cover quilt above includes most of the 2012 releases that I checked out. (I'm sure I'm missing a few. I didn't keep a good track of everything for the earlier half of the year...) I honestly considered not making the album list because the 30 top songs post took me ages and I was stuck, but I knew I had to make the post, since I spent so much time thinking about it. Again, a couple of things:

  • This list only includes albums released between January 2012 and November 31, 2012
  • This list is subjective to my tastes, as you can see from what I generally listened to over the year. For example, it's severely lacking hip-hop since I didn't listen to any of that this year except for a couple of albums. 
  • Although the ratings are subjective, I did try to look at them from a more critical point-of-view, taking into consideration things such as: lyrics, continuity, originality, musicality, execution, etc. 
Check under the cut for the full list! This list took way too long, and it's very poorly written & probably won't make much sense. I apologize in advance.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

[korean music in 2012] part 1: top 30 songs

This is the long overdue post of the best Korean songs of 2012! If you've seen my annual posts from 2011 at all, I made a couple of huge changes this time around. Most obvious change would be that in 2011, I only focused on Korean indie music. I made a top 10 list of Korean indie songs and top 10 of Korean indie albums. However, 2012 was the year the word 'indie' started losing meaning to me, as the line between indie and whatever's-not-indie started to blur, and I frankly did not care much if an artist was indie or not. So here it is: top 30 Korean songs of the year.
Another big change would be that in this list there are 30 songs, as opposed to last year's 10. Again, I paid more attention to music in 2012, and the pool of candidates was a whole lot bigger than 2011. In 2011, there were around 150 songs I considered for this list. In 2012, I had 350. I'm not saying 2012 was a better year for Korean music, because I personally don't think it was; I just listened to more stuff on time in 2012. Keep in mind that the length of the lists have nothing to do with the quality of music that year, since it's always subjective to the releases of that particular year.
And the last change  I made is that this list only encompasses songs released from January 1, 2012 to November 30, 2012. None of the December releases are included in this list, because December was an incredibly busy month for me, and I just didn't have the time to check out any new music from December. (Heck, I didn't have time to check out some notable albums from November as well.) I'll include December's music in the 2013 lists, so no worries. I might do that for the future annual lists as well, maybe get them out of the way sooner...
And as far as these lists go, no same artist is listed more than once, except one exception this time because of a certain producer who featured different artists on the two songs I included. I knew both songs had to be on the list, so I made an exception this time. (Both are in the top 10. You might even know who it might be already...)

Anyway, as always, these 'best of 2012' lists are subjective to my tastes, although I do try to look at things from a more critical viewpoint as well. But knowing myself, these lists will be heavily lacking some hip-hop since I don't tend to listen to much of that. (Or any of the non-'pop'/contemporary popular music genres, like jazz, classical, etc.) I excluded the most obvious pick, Psy's "Gangnam Style" because yeah yeah, I know it's a great song, but it has lost its touch since the exposure and it's really not that incredible without the music video. Also excluded for a music video-related reason is G-Dragon's "One of a Kind" - a great song in every aspect, but the music video turned me off so much I started disliking the song, too.

Check under the cut for what I deemed were the best 30 songs of 2012 for one reason or another. Warning you ahead, it's very wordy. Included in the end is a link to the 8track playlist of all 30 songs, so feel free to check that out, if you want to listen to the songs!