When I first listened to PAKK‘s 곡소리 (A Wail) it felt like coming home.
The EP opens with a cacophony of guitar, bass and drums before finding more of a structure. When the song gets going the progression is similar to that of Apollo 18. The guitar is laying down the melody supported by a sturdy bassline. When the vocals enter half-way through, however, the lyrics can be heard well and the style is rather more like Jellyboy. And before the song comes to an end it’s even more clear than the minutes prior that this is a new kind of awesome.
This is all to be expected. In 2008 Kim Daeinn formed a band together with the session players of his solo project Jellyboy–Apollo 18. Six years later Daeinn decided that it was time to refresh some of his unreleased solo songs for a third Jellyboy album–the second was released back in 2007–and set out to find new band members. The new band took the name Atmo and employed Sujin, whom Daeinn had previously produced an EP for, as vocalist. Now, with the female vocalist dropped, this band goes under the name PAKK.
Kim Daeinn creates magical music like few others. Among his many musical endeavors my personal favorites have always been Jellyboy (which is how I first became a fan of his) and Apollo 18 (responsible for the best album of all time). While Atmo, like PAKK, was most definitely a rock band, on a scale from Jellyboy to Apollo 18, Atmo’s sound was closer to that of Jellyboy whereas PAKK operates closer to Apollo 18. And this is exactly the strength of PAKK: the perfect musicality and melody of Jellyboy is maintained while at the same time bringing out the raw, heavy energy and drive that always characterized Apollo 18’s more hardcore-infused rock pieces. To further help distinguish PAKK from Apollo 18, Kim Daeinn has taken to playing the guitar in PAKK while leaving the bass duties to Park Hyunseok (not to be confused with A18 guitarist Choi Hyunseok).
Following first track “각혈 (Hemoptysis)” the next few songs are more psychedelic in nature. “벽사무 (Byeoksamu)” invites to a dance to fight demons with entrancing vocals, occasionally exposing the bassline. “곤마 (Gonma)” is an instrumental piece exhibiting complex drumming patterns. “수귀 (Drown)” places focus on the vocals. I’m struggling to find a favorite among the three, changing my mind with every listen.
A Wail closes with the dreamy “분진 (Dust)”, that while out of style for the EP anyway feels like an appropriate ending. Lingering guitars in the background, a warm piano in front, a light electronic beat, distant drums. Originally an 8 minute long piece, five minutes have been edited away to fit the release.
At just 5 tracks A Wail is an incredibly strong debut. It offers the kind of all-encompassing music that could sustain repeated listening for years. The kind that reminds me why music matters so much to me. The kind that makes me feel so incredibly grateful that I know it even exists. It may only be the beginning of March, but I’m anyway tempted to name PAKK’s A Wail the best release of 2016.