March’21 K-Releases

Three women stamping the now and recalling what we’ve all been facing.

Awakening our strength
Lim Kim “MAGO”

I’ve expressed how I feel about Lim Kim’s musical and visual transformation in this post, but the more I’ve been consuming her work as Lim Kim (and not Kim Yelim), I’ve been finding myself more drawn into her vision—a vision that I also sympathize and hold.

“MAGO” is a project done in collaboration with the Korean brand called MSCHF (Mischief), a vintage, hip hop, street culture fashion house started by two women, in celebration of International Women’s Day. I’ve always considered MSCHF as a brand that is made for women. It’s not just about celebrating and empowering women, but the brand itself is a woman that is diverse, alternative, cool, and sexy. So Lim Kim fits right in. And “MAGO” is the epitome of it all.

마고할미 (Mago Halmi) is a giant goddess (who looks like a grandmother, as the name connotes) that created land and water. It’s a local legend, and the story differs slightly by region. One says she made mountains with the soil in her hands, rivers with her urine, and small islands with the rocks that fell from her skirt. Another says when she passed away, her last breath became winds and clouds, her left eye became the sun and her right eye the moon, her blood became rivers, and her skin and hair turned into flowers and trees.

This song inspired by the Creator is an eclectic mix of wooden instruments and short verses that ring like spoken word, and at 0:30, a mantra, a spell—“We’re strong / with power of infinite creation / Women born strong.” Empowering wisdom It’s a warrior with mysticism, almost religious in a way. At 1:46, it becomes a chant—“땅을 흔들어 / 뒤덮어 / 마고 / 땅을 움직여 / 뒤섞어 / 마고 (Shake the earth / Cover / Mago / Move the earth / Mix / Mago)”—as if words whispered by Mago Halmi herself as she molded our natural land (Could we say she’s Mother Earth?) My favourite line is: “Remember who started the universe.”

Song: Apple Music / Spotify

Drawing your story of loss
CIFIKA, 신해경 Shin Hae-gyeong “모두 너야 All is you”

I’ve only been familiar with CIFIKA through her electronic sounds, so this collaboration with singer-songwriter Shin Hae-gyeong feels refreshing. Balladic sentiments with an electric guitar crescendo and CIFIKA’s dreamy voice. I’m reminded of rock bands like YB, 3rd Line Butterfly, and Thornapple. Shin Hae-gyeong’s voice quietly singing along in the background adds beautiful strength to the song, as if a voice much needed in the protagonist’s effort to draw light in the abyss of loss.

Song: Apple Music / Spotify

이걸 봐 내 맘은 모두 너야
닿을 수가 없어도 닿고 싶었어

있잖아 지금 알 수 없어도
예전처럼 웃으면 알 수도 있어

슬퍼지는 날 우리 만나게 되면
하려했던 말들 모두 내가 다 말할게

우린 지금 어디 와있니
외쳐도 아무 대답조차 없지만
너는 지금 내게 와있지

look, my heart is all you
even if i can’t touch you, i want to touch you

look, even if i don’t know now
if i smile like before, i might know

if we meet on the day i’m sad
i’ll say all the words that you want to say

where are we now
there’s no answer even if we shout
but you are here with me

Recording my moments
Western Kite [ultraviolet!]

I’m a huge fan of Western Kite’s first album [Subtitle], which I reviewed here, so her second album [ultraviolet!] is the perfect gift for starting this year (March is still considered the start, right?)

It has the same journal-like honesty that I love, yet it’s no longer a sweet singing of love confessions with acoustics and piano keys. Her sounds have evolved to include electronic beats, mystical synths, and metal strums (I’m getting the feels of Jay Som, Soccer Mommy’s [Clean], and Japanese Breakfast’s [Psychopomp], especially in her “Slumber), and she’s expanded the scope of her voice—altogether creating an ambiguous array of love songs that go from “Don’t make me run, boy” to “Thank you John, you’re the one” (My boyfriend asked on her IG Live who John is, and she said it’s her?), some very dark, bright, and blurry photos, and people not caring about her sweet orange.

[ultraviolet!] is given this name as ultraviolet rays turned into a friend from a foe last year, reminding her of how precious every day is. I think this album deserves a full review, so I’ll leave it up to you to listen to the nine songs while I come back with my thoughts on them.

Full album: Apple Music / Spotify

I was sleeping on the couch you know
Nobody was in my room but
Love jumped into my door
I love you more than you do
I wanna see you in my dream, boy
I love you I need you
Begging begging
begging for your love