Review: Rad Museum [Scene]

A little stray from the artists and genres I’ve shared so far, but still my predictal interest in guitar sounds and electronica, just with a smear of soul, blues, and hip hop beats, and a sprinkle of garage rock and bossa nova.

Part of an exclusive R&B and Hip Hop collective, you.will.knovv / Club Eskimo (formed and helmed by DEAN), Rad has long-time been known as Camper who dabbles in graphic design (including almost all of the album covers of Club Eskimo artists), music producing, and DJ-ing (basically my career goals). Revamping his identity as Rad Museum, he enters the public scene with his first EP [Scene] in 2017, featuring seven tracks, or seven scenes of a film (or his/someone’s life?)

Lofi hip hop beats and guitar strings synthesize together to open the first scene. Shameful of his shabby appearance, he’s afraid to approach and rather watches “Over The Fence“. A boy at the peripheral. A boy I cannot find a bit of sympathy but gaze from afar.

“울타리 밖으로 뛰어넘어서 i want to go over the fence
말이라도 해보고 싶은데 i want to talk to you
구름 햇빛에 발이 녹아서 but my feet is melting against the sun above the cloud
바닥에 붙었네 and is now stuck to the ground

되나요 why can’t i do it
나만 이런 건지 why am i like this
매일 바라봐요 i watch everyday
나만 이런가요 am i the only one again

We are immediately carried into the “Cloud“, floating above the white fluff, bringing us into a trance state, or as Rad describes a “정신적인 비행 / a mental flight”. The match with Colde’s laidback roll, punchnello’s rhythmic rap, and MISO’s delicate yet groovy vocals is perfect in creating a chill ambience. I imagine looking, or rather staring up at the clear blue sky and being embraced by the fluff.

“아랠 내려다보니 아찔해 너무 높아서 looking down, i feel dizzy for the height
나는 비싼 것들로 치장 무거워 i don’t decorate myself with expensive things
그저 즐기는 거지 they’re too heavy, i just enjoy them
every second, every moment
필요 없는 것은 내려내려놓고 let go of the things you don’t need
너도 위로, 바라바라보던 것이 come with me to the top, what you see 
현실이 우린 다른 공기를 먹고 becomes the reality, we drink different air
내뱉는 단어 하나하나가 작품이 and every word we spit becomes a piece of art

Rad leads us into the third scene featuring a ballerina and his frivolous romance. Along the melancholic guitar melody, we find him “Dancing In The Rain” with his loved one, submerged in oblivious bliss and decadent love, which holds a sorrow we will never understand. How weather becomes a metaphor of one’s emotional state, or current reality.

“아침부터 너와 since morning, you and i
비가 내리기 만을기다리며 wait for the rain to fall
이런 날씨에 너와 in this weather, i feel
이렇게 행복할 수가 so happy to be with you

헌데 우린 by the way, we
어디로 가는지도 don’t know where we’re going
아무도 모르고 nobody knows
비가 그치면 그땐 when the rain stops
어떤 말을 해야 할지 what should we say
i don’t know

Electric guitar skids in. His voice echoes in. Drum beats bangs with a total upbeat energy.  In an old-school vibe, garage rock, “ㅗ매드키드ㅗ / Mad Kid” is an explosion of skepticism and distrust for everyone. I love the layering of vocal sounds, from disgruntled “whaaat” (0:19) to “wa wa wa” echoes (0:39), which adds character and exciting energy throughout. I love that the instruments — a simple drum and a guitar — leads the entire melody, literally at the forefront while the vocal is an echo or a muffle in the background.

Just like the intentional use of the Korean character in the title, this song is a true fuck you to the world, and I love it.

“첨 보는 사이인데 아래 위로 훑더니 it’s the first time you met me, and you scan your eyes up and down
몰라라 하는 표정에 찌네 looking at me as if i’m oblivious, this is so ridiculous
이유도 모른 발가 벗겨진 기분 i feel like i’m stripped naked without knowing why
어디서부터 잘못된 건지 캄캄해 i have no idea where the problem began, i am in darkness”

The first time I heard this song, I snicker-chuckled. I’m one of those people who doesn’t enjoy making a big deal about my birthday, let alone having a party. So I really adore the character in “Birthday“, who is totally playing it cool when he obviously wants people to know it’s his birthday and is totally holding a passive aggressive cynicism. His birthday comes every year — WHY DOES NOBODY KNOW IT’S HIS BIRTHDAY?! Out of the seven, I think Rad created a solid character in this four-minute song.

Remixing audio from external sources (films?), we hear kids voices and background chatters and street sounds. Then, a click — a STOP button on a VCR player — as if this was a rewind to his younger years. This song has no genre. He mixes alt rock with rap with R&B (sometimes sounding like DEAN) and the continuous drum beats (sometimes with a choral “yus” shouts) are what grounds the clashing. All these sounds coming together for something fun.

아침에 혼자 birthday / i wake up to a happy birthday to myself
cake 사러 파리바게트로 걸음 i walk to Paris Baguette* to buy a cake
근데 있잖아 네가 봤을 but you know, when you saw me
아무런 감흥이 없는 당연해 of course you didn’t feel a hint
애써 아는척할 필요까진 없는데 you don’t have to try so hard to remember
지금 cynical 하니까 비켜줘 but i’m quite cynical right now, so please go away”

(*a famous bakery in Korea)

I imagine “Tiny Little Boy” as the background music of the character’s life — a relentless song that follows him around wherever he goes, whatever he does. A haunting reminder of a happening in your life that changed your entire life which you will never be able to recuperate.

Latin-inspired acoustic guitar melody drives us into melancholy, followed by various beats and shakers, and a slow trumpet. The build up is refreshingly clever, intensifying the state of despair and confusion of the character at the loss of his loved one. DEAN’s rap is perfect.

사람들이 내게 물어봐 everyone asks me
우는가요 why are you crying
유난히도 밝던 where did your
표정은 없네 especially bright face go

그녀가 떠나고 after she left
아무것도 못하는 little boy / he can’t do anything like a little boy”

We’re back in the clouds, along dreamy retro strings and echoes in the last song “Woman“. A sweet love song, like a happy ending of this film, or a hopeful last moment of his life.

“oh, living by myself
i don’t know what to do
somebody help
어지러운 도시에서 in this dizzy city
아무도 몰랐던 i find an oasis
오아시스를 찾았어 that nobody knew
i know you, girl 
구겨 신은 신발 끝이 닳았어 the ends of your sneakers are worn out
oh i know you, girl
헐렁한 티셔츠 목이 바랬어 the neckline of your baggy t-shirt has faded”

Each song is a scene in a film, or a glimpse into different moments of a person’s life. The dreamy atmosphere and early-2000s vibe create a nostalgic scent for the memories missed. [Scene] also exemplifies Rad’s wide musical spectrum, where there exists no genre but all the genres, or maybe it’s the other way around; he plays with all the genres that his music has no genre. Rolling Stones describes him “cinematic and versatile”, and no two words could best describe him and this album. It’s pretty fucking great.