Salamanda ashbalkum Human Pitch
Seoul-based ambient duo Salamanda have a sound that’s recognisable from the very first listen. Glimmering textures, distorted vocals and entrancing modular synths make up their humid, transportive palette. A distinctive sound can be a blessing and curse, though: immediately identifiable, but also self-limiting. ashbalkum subtly redraws the horizons of their sonic world.
The project was created during the summer of 2021 during a period of transition, when lockdowns were lifted but uneasiness about re-entry to the world lingered. ashbalkum rings out with a similar sense of disquiet. Opening track Overdose layers soft vocals over bubbling synths that submerge you into its deep waters, evoking the (sometimes) unsettling sounds of the natural world that Salamanda draw so much inspiration from. Melting Hazard’s bright, intentional percussion collides with woozy synth lines for an atmosphere of anxiety that only relents when its cinematic strings creep in. Kiddo Caterpillar hints at – but never fully commits to – catharsis, its soaring synths immediately grounded by dark, glitchy vocals.
It’s in these moments that ashbalkum reveals its emotional depths. While the album may not be a grand departure from the aesthetic they’ve made their name with, Salamanda still find ways to quietly expand on their transcendental sound, uncovering new realities as they go.