My 10 Favorite Albums of Asian / Asian Musicians Since 2010: Top 4
This is the third article in a three-part book series celebrating Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month. Below are my top 4 favorite albums by Asian and Asian American musicians. In the uniquely white landscape of the American music industry, it is more crucial than ever to recognize the artists who struggle against the forces that prevent Asian American albums and, perhaps more so, to gain attention. and international praise. Please consider supporting these artists by directly purchasing their music during this pandemic.
# 4: “To see the next part of the dream“(2021) from Parannoul
This album is constantly recommended to me via various music forums on the Internet. Why? I mainly listen to what white people like. But it turns out white people like this – a Korean artist that none of my Korean friends have ever heard of.
At the artist Band Camp page, Parannoul anonymously claims to be a teenage, stupid, rebellious person living in Seoul, Korea. They say they are losers, say that they are not popular, known or important, and that they should rightfully remain unknown. And throughout their losing kingdom, they will continue to make music.
Parannoul admits that all of his sounds come from computers – they point out that their instruments are all just plugged into a computer to sound that way. It’s bittersweet to see the next generation repeating the same mistakes we made: continually underestimating themselves without ever hesitating to make art to stop it all. The game name for Parannoul is a home produced shoegaze, digital plugins for guitar effects, and a huge avalanche of sounds – a combination of piano, acoustic guitar, fuzzy chirps in electric guitar tone, and a midrange amateur voice that sounds like a close friend telling you all their insecurities, everything in the world. Everything is distorted 20% more than usual, and the vocal tracks start to grow tails and scratch their eyelids, for the pain and pure emotion. What more could you ask for? The English title of the last track on the album is “I Can Feel My Heart Touching You”. Enough said.
The strange album cover shows a chimney exhaling smoke in the blue sky, where some birds fly above: it is a reminder to “All about Lily Chou-Choi», A film about Japanese teenagers lost in anguish and love for a fictional musician from afar. Parannoul is a Korean person after my own soul, my Korean-American soul, and, as I said in my previous article, “I never thought I would see my reflection; it hurts to watch it, and i feel like it should be simple.
# 3: “Bury me in Makeout Creek“(2014) by Mitski
The cultural impact of this album is very difficult to underestimate. Mitski starred in a Small office NPR concert and shouted into his guitar a song that is normally played on the piano. It was important that the harmonics of his voice resonated with the individual notes of his guitar strings so that they could vibrate and be detected by electric mics, simple electromagnets disturbed by vibrations in the air. In my ears Mitski erupted singing about when you leave me, how I’m going to leave myself in the wake of all the screaming, how I’m going to leave you, me, my mom, my dad and where were you when did I leave it all to myself? “Texas is a landlocked state,” sings Mitski.
Texas is a landlocked state. When we grow up we will believe that the places we live in are far from where our parents want us to be, but for now, we are forever trapped between these landlocked states. When Mitski tells us on “Townie” that the “boy boys boys” keep coming for “more more more”, and his head voice swirls upstream and flutters over toasted and distorted guitars, it feels like this moment will never end, as our bodies themselves swirl in concrete hymns and kicks and sex with people we will never see again.
In a way, the way she sings in harmony with a male voice on “First Love / Late Spring” seems more nonchalant in comparison. It’s such a touching and important song that I listened to it on repeat when I was in grade one in Burbank. My repeated streaming finally made my neighbor complain. This is what I felt when I was in first grade: I wanted to love so much that I would welcome the day when everything warps to the tune of Mitski singing in Japanese on the drums and bass.
# 2: “Crumbling”(2016) by Mid-Air Thief
On the other hand, we have Mid-Air Thief, which was originally called Gongjoong Doduk, a phrase meaning roughly public morality. Like Parannoul, Mid-Air Thief remains anonymous, despite interviews and the success of the sale of vinyl records through Bandcamp. We all respect that because his music is too powerful to require a name engraved on it.
The music of “Crumbling” is a rock-electronic hybrid mastered via a cassette, a buzz of jarring electronic melodies that rub shoulders with acoustic guitars and synth chimes. On the track “Gameun Deut” (“Like Closing Your Eyes”), we hear Mid-Air Thief and backing vocalist Summer Soul singing the sand gushing over an hourglass, the nights spent individually and the emptiness burning in the sky. At the end of the song, when he declares that memories and melodies flow away (pour, flow) one cannot help but wonder how the wild melodies of the synth on the passionate sung “흘러” (“heul- loh “) will make us feel again in the future, when we, ourselves, are falling on the corner of the table, spilling out on the floor, swirling, sinking, spinning. And then the song ends without a solution, returning to the keyphrase “여긴 시계 넘어 로” (“yeo-geen shee-gae num-uh-roh”) (or “here, time is falling…”) and we don’t never say more.
# 1: “0“(2013) by Ichiko Aoba
Yes, album “0”, an album whose lyrics I don’t understand in Japanese at all, has been my favorite album of Asian and Asian American musicians since 2010. I can only deduce what the ingenious guitarist and singer / songwriter Ichiko Aoba could sing. Maybe the title of the song “I am POD (0%)” gives a hint, and I can at least find a Translation for the lyrics of this song. The translation reveals a person like us, a tortured soul who wishes to eat their own memories of meals with a loved one, desperately trying to love themselves as much as they loved another.
Below, we hear perfect acoustic guitar tones: melancholic chords that resonate on the plucked strum, the almost invisible plectrum as the notes float in the open air. We are subjected to these pleasant sounds, but also subjected to the void of pieces of more than 9 minutes where many minutes are spent hearing cars on a nearby highway under dissonant chromatic melodies. You could imagine Aoba sitting on a bench, eating ice cream, wondering once more about death and regret as she picks up the guitar to tell us something new and terrible.
We have to hear this in our chests and sing Japanese words that we will never be able to fully understand, despite the translation. We must understand the desire that drives us to hear the silence prolonged by the tires and the Doppler effect of the engines and headlights. We have to understand where we will be after all this, fallen back into the big mirror, seeing ourselves in his soul. That’s why this is my favorite Asian and Asian American album of Asian origin, and the rest of Aoba’s work is just as promising. Please listen: you will not regret the experience.