I've recently discovered a pretty cool Korean group called Clazziquai. Sound like a shameless ripoff of Jamiroquai? It is. Here's a little review I ran across. It says that the music can't be classified, which is the hallmark of a cruddy review, but it's the only one in English that I could find. How about we call all groups that draw upon various musical styles "Postmodern Pop?"
Clazziquai brings unique spice to K-pop
Listening to Clazziquai's first studio album, "Instant Pig," is like having a dish full of neat and colorful sushi rolls in front of you. The name of the group connotes its unique brand of fusion. Classic, jazz and groove (quai) are well blended in its melting pot. The band's members say they were inspired by legendary acid jazz group Jamiroquai. After tasting the eclectic mix, some say it sounds like fusion house with acid jazz and others say chill-out-lounge, but it is a meaningless effort to try to classify Clazziquai. The Clazziquai adventure started when Kim placed some of his music samples on his Web site (www.clazziquai.co.kr) back in 1999. Those caught the ears of Web surfers who soon got hooked on the exotic sounds and melodies. Kim's music became known through word of mouth and was soon played as background music in trendy bars and in the Soho of Cheongdam-dong and Apgujeong-dong, Seoul's trendiest shopping districts. Eventually, Kim signed a record deal for "Instant Pig." Three vocalists joined in Clazziquai's first project, each boasting a unique voice. Alex takes care of the male vocals while Horan and Christina lend a female touch to every track. From the first track, "You Never Know," which features samba rhythms to the last one, "Cat Bossa" that has a spice of bossa nova, the band shows a diverse yet intense musical spectrum. Some of their songs have already captured audiences outside of Korea. "Playgirl" is playing in the background in a Hong Kong television commercial.
The English lyrics are silly, as they always are in Asian music, but the music itself is a departure from the pop mold and uses something other than the mindnumbingly predictable 1-4-5 chord progressions and frenetic techno beats that characterize most K-pop (and J-pop and pop music anywhere). Then again, it's a bit depressing that pop music with something as simple as jazz chord progressions and bossa nova beats should sound so fresh and innovative.
The album, Instant Pig, has a some bossa, a samba and some R&B-ish beats, all with a dash of disco background strings and electronica blips. It also has the male and female vocals singing in octaves a la Sade, which gives it a just-quit-raining-sun-coming-out quality that I really love.
Here's what a Japanese guy had to say about the group.
Not all the songs on the albums are great. "Playgirl" in particular is downright annoying, which is probably why it's being used for a Hong Kong TV commercial. It's strongest and most popular tune is "Sweety," which can be downloaded here. Check it out.