Thursday, February 23, 2012

CD Review: Geomungo Factory's 'Metamorphosis'

Geomungo Factory

Geomungo Factory hails from South Korea. The geomungo is a six-stringed, elongated instrument with 16 frets and 3 movable bridges. It is plyaed with both hands that either pluck the strings or strike them with a bamboo stick (suldae) or a musical bow. The plucked instruments are constructed in a similar manner, but the sizes and sounds vary. The result is a relatively lo-fi recording of folk songs without a lot of vocals or much in the way of additional instrumentation. However, the vocals on Track 6 are poetic, moving, and harmonic. The plucked sounds of the geomungo instruments resemble the earthy tones of the koto, the dutar of Central Asia, and the vibrancy of the shamisen. Irregardless of cross country organological comparisons, Geomungo Factory is uniquely Korean--with an instrumental repertoire dating back to the 4th century. At times, the strings sound frenzied, scratchy, and loud, but that is the exception. Track 4 contains part of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, while other tracks are steeped in Korean tradition. The high and low tones of the geomungo are always captivating with each listen. Delve into the music of South Korea today with Geomungo Factory as your guide. ~ Matthew Forss

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