While the K-Pop scene is buzzing with excitement and electric dance tracks, sometimes this music isn’t to everyone’s liking. Some fans of the Korean music scene may crave something calmer and more melodic. Popping over to the K-Indie scene, an up-and-coming trio that’s recently started to capture a lot of attention with International fans is quietly creating waves with their album The Bay. While the album was released August 22, 2016, it’s just now catching attention several months later.
La Baie is made up of pianist Park Jinwoo, guitarist Denis Sungho, and vocalist Kim Hyemi. Together, the trio creates sultry, jazzy, and almost-New Age music (they’re officially listed as “chic pop”) that is hypnotic and rhythmic. Throughout The Bay, the trio uses a mix of French, English, and Korean to make the lyrics for each song sound enchanting, while the simplicity of the guitar and piano paired with Kim’s vocals seduce the listener into take a journey to another world of peaceful, sensual sounds that are like warm water over a weary soul.
Even though the descriptions sound cliché, they’re the only fitting way to describe the music quality The Bay presents to listeners. Instrumentals and vocals are so well executed that it’s difficult to not feel something deep within the heart. Perhaps it’s the familiarity of Kim’s vocals as she sometimes sounds BoA-esque before switching to deeper, sexier vocals. In a way, Kim is like a snake charmer charming listeners as her vocals sway back and forth between her myriad of tones. Paired with the melodic instrumentals, music on The Bay is an experience, not just background music.
The lead single, “The Bay,” captures the imagination with its slight repetition and beautiful melodies. Kim’s vocals tell a wonderful story with subtle emotion that sweeps listeners away into an ocean of fantasy. Denis and Park create a complex backtrack with the few instruments they use to add dimension. The instrumentals’ rises and falls throughout the song make it seem shorter than its 5-minute timing even though Kim is a bit monotone. With the monotone aside, the song is fresh, upbeat, and warm to entice listeners to proceed deeper into the album.
For track two, listeners are gifted with the jazzy, sexy “Voice.” Here, Kim can be likened to a graceful snake weaving through the musical scale with skill. In “Voice,” Kim uses huskier tones to enchant listeners. The song is best appreciated with the eyes closed because it’s the best way to feel the music. Denis’ guitar is light and magical to help lull listeners deeper into the mysterious wonderland “Voice” creates. Everything here is pure magic.
“Let Them Dream” picks the beat up a little more to create a soft, mid-tempo track that’s dreamy and hopeful. Kim makes good use of high notes in the chorus to make the song feel lifted and pretty. The instrumentals also have an optimistic quality to them. The song swallows listeners and envelopes them in warmth. Sometimes the instrumentals are louder than Kim, but this issue evens out as the song progresses.
Track four is “Valse D.” The track features Denis’ enchanting guitar with Kim harmonizing with it. The track features Park talking in French over the instrumentals. The music is the highlight of the track as it has moments of slow beauty followed by a moment where it sounds like frantic, old-timey movie tracks. “Valse D.” isn’t the strongest track on the album, but it’s pleasant all the same.
“Ocean” wraps around to the sultry, mysterious sound listeners are first introduced to in “Voice.” This time, Denis’ guitar charms listeners in an intense way, and it makes listeners sit back and imagine waves crashing upon the shore. Then, Kim comes in strongly to create a storm upon the ocean. Her vocals aren’t as soft in “Ocean” as they were in previous tracks. There’s a sense of urgency and desperation in her voice for this song, creating an emotional appeal that’s ripe of sadness. Park’s piano, too, helps create more urgency to give the song an intense tone. Some of the instrumentals recall sounds from “The Bay,” so the two tracks could be considered bookend songs.
Track six, “The Photographer,” begins with feelings of darkness. Kim’s vocals are haunting and feel like they come from a horror film at times as they echo and reach new lows. Denis and Park’s instrumentals also have dark tones as they sound off-key at times to make the song eerie. There are hints of Latin sound in the song, so there are many dimensions to the dark-toned tune. Around the 2:30-mark, though, Kim’s vocals feel too harsh as they’re too forceful, but this helps with the dark feel. “The Photographer” isn’t as refined as the other tracks, but it’s interesting.
“Revolutionary” is a dance track that feels like a remix with the echoing “Chopin is back” and arrangement of the vocals. There is some French-speaking overlaid on the track as well as some Spanish guitar that makes the song have a bit of a confused identity. That’s why the song is “revolutionary” as it borrows from many different spheres to come together to create an interesting piece. For those looking for something that is classical and electro-pop, “Revolutionary” will catch listeners’ attention with ease.
Finally, “Postude” features children talking over an eerie track that sounds like a skipping old record. The children speak in Korean and French while Kim’s vocals echo from a distance. The track has varying beats that start slow and pick up to a groovy, bass-filled sound. The track is short and closes the album out strangely because the children feel out of place, but the instrumentals are spot-on.
As far as music releases go this year, The Bay stands out in a positive way because it’s different, sensuous, and inviting. Each song makes a listener wanting more. La Baie’s The Bay easily earns a 4.5/5 and is a definite must-have in a music collection.