Goodbye, Music Alliance Pact!

The 15th of March has just passed. If this had been like any other of the past 90 months, this date would’ve meant that it was time for a new edition of the Music Alliance Pact. Though as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end.

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The first edition of the Music Alliance Pact saw the light of day in October 2008. Scottish music blogger The Pop Cop had gotten the idea to gather other music bloggers specializing in the scene of a particular country and let each of them pick the very best song from their country each month for publication on all blogs in the group. Brilliant idea!

Swedesplease, the first blog to represent Sweden, was one of my favorite blogs at the time so I of course checked out all the song and was thoroughly impressed by the selection. For the second edition another of my then favorite blogs, Eardrums, had joined the pact to represent Norway. Realizing that the blogs in the Music Alliance Pact was not an immutable set I reached out to The Pop Cop myself, offering my services as a potential representative of South Korea. The offer was accepted, and more than seven years later Indieful ROK still dutifully served up a new fantastic Korean song every month for the world to enjoy.

A week and a half ago The Pop Cop announced his retirement from blogging. As the coordinator for the Music Alliance Pact during all of these years, that means that the era of the Music Alliance Pact has now come to an end. Many blogs have come and gone over the years. 46 different countries have been represented. Most of the blogs that were once members are no longer active–a trend for blogs overall, as it would seem–but a bunch of us are still around. We will try to continue our collaboration somehow, though we’re still figuring out which way to go.

Given my recent infatuation with PAKK it was a given that it should be PAKK that represented South Korea in the Music Alliance Pact of March 2016. I had already gotten approval from the band and secured permission from label Electric Muse when the news of the Music Alliance Pact’s demise came. So here it is–the song that would’ve been the South Korean MAP song this month, had MAP still been around.

 

Korean MAP Highlights

Every time I look at the list of Korean songs in the Music Alliance Pact I’m somewhat amazed by the amount of fantastic music represented there. Of course the songs are all picked by me based on my own preferences, so it’s a somewhat narcissistic exercise. But still. 83 songs in total. All awesome. And had I not let life outside of music interfere the past couple of years, it would’ve been 87 fantastic songs. Many, many thanks to all the Korean artists and labels that have been part of the Music Alliance Pact over the years! It’s been a great pleasure working with you.

Each and every song deserves to be highlighted in its own right. All songs mean something very special to me, and they all say something about the time that I picked them. Many memories are hiding behind those titles. Starting from The Black Skirts‘ “강아지” in December 2008 all the way to Earip‘s “1984” in February 2016. Be that as it may, it is undeniably so that some of these songs have been more important to me than others.

2009 August: Sunkyeol – I’ll Write When I’m There

The song I have listened to more than any other in the past decade. Seriously. When I first came across the song I had the very real problem that I couldn’t stop listening to it once I’d started unless I gave up on music altogether. Also one of the best songs ever. Almost exactly a year after it was featured in the Music Alliance Pact “I’ll Write When I’m There” was finally released on Sunkyeol‘s debut EP.

Kyoungmo Kim of Especially When has a new band and their name is Sunkyeol. Equipped with great melodies and a bit of experimentation that leaves a warm, fuzzy feeling, Sunkyeol are currently looking for a label to release their first single. “I’ll Write When I’m There” was co-written and recorded with Joe Hollick of Wolf People in a joint project that never took off.

2010 January: Apollo 18 – Warm

My all-time favorite song. The song that eventually lead to me meeting my husband. A song that means everything. For Music Alliance Pact it was the extended, Red+ version that was picked. It is very fair to say that my life would not be what it is today had it not been for Apollo 18‘s “Warm”.

Last year Apollo 18 established themselves as one of the very best rock acts of Korea. Starting with a marvellous post-rock-oriented EP, an amazing album followed in which they experimented with hardcore, shoegaze and psychedelic elements. An international version of the first EP has just been released and before the end of the month it’ll be followed by instrumental rock pieces of a more playful kind. Re-recorded to magically sound even better than before, “Warm” is a stunningly beautiful post-rock piece of epic proportions best played as loud as possible.

2010 June: Jambinai – Miro

This is where it started for Jambinai. A live recording from Jambinai’s first ever performance. I had been intrigued by the band already from what I could gather from a small introductory text in Korean. Actually hearing the band’s music–this song in particular–I knew I had come across a new favorite band. I would listen to it on repeat every night until my laptop ran out of batteries. Six years later Jambinai can be found touring the world to critical acclaim. The sound may have changed, but I remain a fan.

All trained in traditional Korean music, the three members of Jambinai play piri, geomungo and haegeum, respectively. Currently performing musical experiments in the realm of post-rock, they are working their instruments to create a fresh and natural sound and hope to make their first official release later this summer. Starting out slowly before proceeding into a fascinating display of prowess, “Miro” is a sonic delicacy not to be missed.

 

International MAP Highlights

While sharing Korean music to an international audience of the scale that the Music Alliance Pact allowed was a privilege that I’ve been very grateful for, speaking as a music lover the greatest thing about the Music Alliance Pact was the easy access to so much of the world’s very best music. A few thousand songs from almost as many artists have been promoted via MAP throughout the years. Many of them have been outstanding, but some have been more memorable to me than others.

2008 October: ERA – Opium   [Peru]

The very first Music Alliance Pact post made a strong impression on me, partially thanks to this apparently Muse inspired song. I even reached out to the band in hopes of securing a copy of the album it came from, alas we couldn’t find a way to handle the international transaction so in the end I had to satisfy with just playing this one ERA song over and over on a very short playlist consisting of nothing but “Opium” and Juliana Down‘s “Empires“.

Taken from the band’s second album Ufocalipsis which was released last year. [SoTB]

2009 July: Boat Beam – The Rain Pauly   [Australia]

Super lovely harmonies. Enticing guitar. Pretty strings. Sparsely used tambourine. Lyrics that I years later still haven’t quite been able to make sense of. Flageolets. So much to love.

So it turns out that Josephine of Sparkadia is now in this gorgeously gentle folky trio in Madrid called Boat Beam, and they seem to be kinda popular. How crazy is that? I could listen to “The Rain Pauly” for days. [Who The Bloody Hell Are They?]

2010 March: Saycet – Easy   [France]

One of the prettiest songs to ever have graced the Music Alliance Pact. I fell in love as soon as I heard it. A year and a half later I randomly encountered Saycet at a bar in Seoul. It felt very good to say that I knew his music thanks to MAP.

Saycet is a French electronic artist made famous by his album One Day At Home in 2006. Pierre Lefeuvre, the man behind Saycet, is a daydream music specialist. His songs carry the listener away in a cocoon universe where nothing can hurt you and every little noise is a delight. [ZikNation]

2010 March: Electric Litany – February   [Greece]

This is one of those songs I could keep on repeat almost infinitely. Extremely atmospheric, the song builds up beautifully. In far too many cases I have let my MAP discoveries be limited to the songs featured, but in the case of Electric Litany I still keep coming back for more.

Preferring patience and restraint over explosive blasts of atmospheric wailing, Electric Litany slowly build up tunes that glimmer with hauntingly melodic ideas and climax with rhythms that capture the traditional musical heritage of Eastern European countries. Their debut album, How To Be A Child & Win The War, offers a sonically cinematic experience that will leave you feeling both elated and emotionally drained. Gorgeous sounds are pulled from within the deepest recesses of the human soul, while vocals full of intuitive swells and fades rise over piano, synths and tremolo guitars. A work of mesmerising beauty, like a tender touch on a sad day. [Mouxlaloulouda]

2010 March: Sajama Cut – Paintings/Pantings   [Indonesia]

In spite of lyric like “arrival in Christmas time” this song just screams summer to me. A perfect pop arrangement with great harmonies.

Sajama Cut are praised for their lyrics and unusual songs arrangements, with influences ranging from Echo & The Bunnymen, The Beach Boys, Guided By Voices, R.E.M. and tons of obscure singer-songwriters. “Paintings/Pantings” comes from their new album Manimals, a record which has a varied approach in songwriting, with most of the lyrics taken from Marcel Thee’s journal. [Deathrockstar]

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