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Park Jiha The Gleam tak:til/Glitterbeat


As its title would suggest, Park Jiha’s third album, The Gleam, is an attempt to capture light’s variant textures and qualities in sound. Akin to watching sunbeams pour in through a window, it’s a meditative experience that invites the listener to reflect and observe.

For the majority of the record, the Korean artist’s melodies play out at a glacial pace: sustained tones stretch out into emptiness, like shadows filling a room at dusk. Acoustic instruments – such as the saenghwang, a Korean mouth organ – are processed with a digital finish, giving the record an ambient, dreamlike quality reminiscent of ECM Records at its most exploratory. Most notably, Jiha’s compositions infuse the soothing sounds of her country’s traditional instruments, including the piri: a small, double-reed instrument with a deceptively versatile range. Depending on how she plays, it can sound breathy and soulful like a saxophone (At Dawn) or metallic and searing like a piercing synth lead (A Day In).

As the speed picks up towards The Gleam’s midsection, it becomes increasingly psychedelic, reminiscent of the spiritual jazz of Alice Coltrane – though it doesn’t quite hold the same hypnotic power. Tracks like The Way of Spiritual Breath and Restlessly Towards may be more fleshed-out and elaborate in composition, but sound overblown in the process.

The Gleam bounces back as the tempo slows down for the record’s sprawling, spacious end section. Album closer Temporary Inertia contrasts gently plucked chords with the discordant twang of a percussive string instrument, creating a compelling sense of disharmony. Here we find its most captivating moments, with every sound given ample space to shimmer and emit its own unique glow.