Jambinai – Asia Award Winner | Songlines


ONDA (Bella Union)

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Jambinai ONDA

South Korea’s Jambinai first featured in Songlines six years ago when they played at WOMAD and we noted that despite the use of ancient instruments such as haegeum (fiddle) and geomungo (zither), the sound was ‘screaming heavy metal rather than polite tradition.’ Their first internationally-released album, 2016’s Hermitage, didn’t quite live up to their potential, but the group made up for it in spectacular fashion with ONDA, a perfectly calibrated synthesis of rock guitars, electronic noise, traditional styles and ancient instruments. In part, it’s more traditional than before, with the haegeum and geomungo joined by piri (oboe), yanggeum (hammered dulcimer) and saenghwang (reed mouth organ). Yet at the same time, having expanded from a trio to a five-piece with the addition of bass and drums the band sound edgier and more rhythmic than ever. ‘A thrilling, constantly surprising set in which gently hypnotic passages suddenly give way to a crash of guitars,’ noted our reviewer, concluding that the album was ‘magnificent.’

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