Tip! *In process of stocking* Like its predecessor, Philos, 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 (shown on the album cover art), 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.
“Breathing has been an essential part of all my work since day one,” she notes. “It definitely is intertwined within the music, as we need breathing to feel music. I tried taking my time as much as possible with this album trying to express what I felt at the moment.” Breathing is an act of constant repetition, of course, but “repetition is essential to keep a certain focus and create enough ground for the atmosphere of the track to develop and create feelings, music is very similar to nature in a way.”
The music on The Gleam often surprises, as instruments take on different colours 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. “It made me think a lot on the role of light and gave me the opportunity to re-imagine this black and white canvas with a sunrise of my own,” Jiha explains. “I also divided the piri melody into two parts so it sounded like two choirs that would assemble and transition together.” The effect shimmers, 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.