The Gleam

GB 119LP GB 119LP

LP version. The luminous third album from the acclaimed Korean multi-instrumentalist and composer Park Jiha. The beauty of light is the inspiration for The Gleam. Park Jiha distills light into sound, from the first flicker of morning on the horizon in "At Dawn" all the way to the moment when full darkness falls again in "Nightfall Dancer", capturing the essence of it in notes and silence. The album had its origin with the piece "Temporary Inertia", which was created for a performance as "a meditative improvisation in a bunker designed by the architect Ando Tadao, where the ceiling had an open light way going across the room..." Like its predecessor, Philos (GB 077CD/LP), The Gleam is a completely solo work, all the music composed and played by Park Jiha on the piri, a type of oboe, the saenghwang, a mouth organ, the hammered dulcimer known as the yanggeum, and glockenspiel. There's a stark clarity to the sound, yet it's never spare or empty. There's a searching warmth to what she does. It's minimal without being minimalist, occasionally presenting itself with the formality of traditional Korean music that is her background, although she feels that the distance she's put between herself and that teaching is "really what made my music what it is now". At other times her playing is an improvisation that spirals free into the sky. It all comes together into a beautiful whole and it always flows with a natural rhythm. Like everything, it breathes. The music on The Gleam often surprises, as instruments take on different colors and shades. Nowhere is that more evident than on "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans", a composition created as a live soundtrack for a movie of the same name, a silent black-and-white film. The effect of dividing the piri melody into two parts shimmers, and is both intimate and quietly flickering, like light itself. Across The Gleam, the music patiently shifts moods, from the soft serenity of "At Dawn" to the playful, sparkling dance that marks "A Day In..." as the rhythm carries it along. Nothing is rushed. Much of that sense is due to the way she composes. Working with textures and layers in a piece until it breathes, until it's ready. There was another, inevitable factor involved in the creation process of The Gleam: Covid-19. The global pandemic meant that the performance of "Temporary Inertia" was pushed back until Oct. 2020. The music had already been gestating for a while, with some pieces written a couple of years earlier, but the long break offered her more chance to slowly shape the album.