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Jambinai - A Hermitage album review

Sweet Seoul music from South Korean trio.

Jambinai's A Hermitage album artwork

You only have to look at the work of mind-mangling filmmakers such as Park Chan-wook (creator of the disturbing Oldboy) to realise there’s a strange, unique and oh-so-dark corner of South Korea’s artistic network where fevered minds are conjuring works of great horror and beauty. With their second album, Jambinai prove themselves equally innovative and avant-garde. Utilising traditional Korean instruments such as the fiddle-like haegeum, piri (a bamboo flute) and geomungo (Korean zither) alongside guitars, they weave largely instrumental tapestries depicting fear, isolation and, in places, a cautious hope.

Opener Wardrobe wades in Sabbath-esque sludge and Led Zep squeals, while a glimmer of light shines through the delicate For Everything That You Lost. And you don’t need to understand the words barked across Abyss in order to ingest the feeling of claustrophobia designed to tie your stomach into knots. This is noise with brains, tightly leashed until the band decide to set it free, bloodied teeth gnashing, into a fog of paranoia. It’s about as uneasy as listening gets, and it’ll have you checking for monsters under the bed with each listen.

Emma has been writing about music for 25 years, and is a regular contributor to Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog and Louder. During that time her words have also appeared in publications including Kerrang!, Melody Maker, Select, The Blues Magazine and many more. She is also a professional pedant and grammar nerd and has worked as a copy editor on everything from film titles through to high-end property magazines. In her spare time, when not at gigs, you’ll find her at her local stables hanging out with a bunch of extremely characterful horses.