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JIDA – K-SPOTLIGHT (Music Special)

Merry Christmas to all of our IMK readers! Sorry to keep you waiting for your next K-SPOTLIGHT review! We finally got round to reviewing London/South Korea-based producer, JIDA’s recent album for you all, and have put together our recommendations as usual! He released an EP called Fade Away in 2017 and this is what we will be covering in this article.

We hope you read our interview with JIDA and featured vocalist Rachel Lim, but if you missed it, then click here to take another look.

An introduction to JIDA

JIDA is a producer who has created a signature dream-like and electro-ambient sound with his music. He has collaborated with female singers predominantly, and thought highly of Rachel Lim, whom he eventually asked to participate in the tracks that appear in the Fade away album. He praised her natural tone which he thinks contains both coldness and warmth. However, Rachel has since decided that her other interests take precedence and therefore this project marks the end of their work together.

A lot of JIDA’s early music displayed great proficiency and skill in merging a variety of ideas and elements together. In some ways it blended modernity together with a nod to the past, whilst staying a little eclectic and experimental. It’s what piqued our interest way back when he started officially releasing music as singles. JIDA admits to being inspired by past memories, reminiscing and wanting to portray complex emotions.

The Fade Away album contains the songs JIDA has released to-date, alongside some new ones.

© JIDA. 19.09.2017. Credit: Photograph by Karen Lee.

© JIDA. 19.09.2017. Credit: Photograph by Karen Lee.

Fade Away album review
Autumn breeze

‘Autumn breeze’ is one of JIDA’s best tracks. It starts off like it was plucked from a song of old with that gravelly vinyl record muffling, but then flits to present day bringing with it a brightness and clarity. The verses sound chilled and well-suited for Rachel’s voice. The piano dances in the background. ‘Autumn breeze’ seamlessly transitions back and forth through dimming and clarity creating beautiful juxtaposition within the track.

At the end of the Fade Away album, there is even a London version of ‘Autumn breeze’ which includes background noise of the 390 bus to Victoria Station. It’s a quirky touch and a good injection of JIDA’s personality.

Blind

We were a little surprised by ‘Blind’ because it is much more stripped back compared to JIDA’s other works. However, in terms of the context of the entire album as a whole, we can understand why it was slotted in. The song does evoke feelings of nostalgia and the difficulties of letting someone go, with the enjoyable melody and piano line being the highlights. The lyrics lack a level of complexity which we felt slightly deteriorated the impact of the song, but they do manage to paint some semblance of a core idea.

Rather strangely, JIDA wasn’t willing to elaborate on the details of ‘Blind’, even with it being the apparent title track of Fade Away, but luckily there is a music video to go along with it so that our readers can make up their own minds.

High

‘High’ is an uptempo offering that we really liked. Rachel’s voice breaks a little at the beginning, providing an unexpected fragility which rapidly changes to a rhythmical delight. JIDA is supreme at the mixing at mastering of this song, playfully working the vocals to create a contrast to the uniform anchoring of the piano chords.

Starlight

‘Starlight’ is another slow-burning track hiding a sneakily powerful chorus. The production elements are splendid and whimsical, bringing another dimension to the song. Rachel’s voice is at times distorted to add to that futuristic atmosphere, and transports you right amongst the stars.

Fade

‘Fade’ takes the listener to dreamy territory once more. Knowing what JIDA said about this album being his last collaboration with Rachel, perhaps it is fitting to compare the process to a dream that fades to black.

Unlike JIDA, we felt that Rachel’s tone leans more towards wistful territory. This becomes even more apparent with slower songs and ‘Fade’ could have benefited from more expressive and warmer vocal delivery to make it stand out.

“It comes and goes, before I know I even have it in my reach

You’re like a dream that fades to black, all I needed was a glance.

You’re like a dream that slips away, like sand against my hand.”

Concluding remarks

Overall, the Fade Away album provides a satisfying listen and it’s a good CD to add to your collection. The faster tempo tracks are stronger than the recent slow ones, which we feel is something that JIDA may need to work more on. That’s not to say they are a chore to listen to, but ‘Fade’ in particular was not entirely memorable enough to warrant repeat listening. JIDA is at his best when he is confident in being playful with production and we would like to see more of that. A matter of debate about K-indie and small label music not taking off is the limited accessibility of artists and producers to new potential new fans. The K-pop machine takes social media very seriously and perhaps this is missing from JIDA. We found this a little disappointing since most of the music he has released so far has been very good, and yet it has merely slipped under the radar.

If you handed this album to anyone without telling them it came out of South Korea, we think they would be pleasantly surprised at the creativity on display here. It is very far removed from mainstream Korean music. We hope that JIDA can go back into an experimental phase with his next steps and find another collaborator that can contribute something new to his music.

How to support JIDA

You can purchase the album online! It is available to buy via  iTunes, Google Play, and you can also stream on Spotify. Physical albums can be bought from online music retailers such as ktown4u and YesAsia.

Featured image and in-article image source: © JIDA. 19.09.2017. Credit: Photos taken by Karen Lee. All official images were provided directly by the artist. All rights reserved. No image reproduction without permission.

All videos were sourced from Waltzsofa Records’ official YouTube account.

© JIDA’s ‘Fade Away’ album review. 25.12.2017. Inspire Me Korea.

Louisa Lee

Enthusiastic writer, scientist, and foodie. Enjoys discovering new music, films and books, as well as travelling, trying various cuisines and learning about different cultures. My music player is never too far away - life just isn’t complete without music!

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