Mathias Delplanque is back with a new live recording, laid down in May of last year with his KEDA partner E’Joung-Ju during the fifth edition of the Festival Printemps Coréen.
Live at Cosmopolis is a spacious, meandering improv piece that features Delplanque on live sampling and bass and E’Joung-Ju on a traditional six-stringed wooden Korean instrument called the geomungo.
The pair have collaborated before. Their 2016 LP Hwal was warmly received. The Wire called it “a powerfully atmospheric record [that] feels painstakingly crafted.”
This new effort is more fluid. The interplay between his modern and her traditional contributions is seamless. To be clear, E’Joung-Ju doesn’t play her instrument the way it has normally been played during its 1,600-plus-year history. She brings the same boundless sense of experimentation to geomungo that Delplanque is so well respected for in electronic music circles.
I’m surprised to see the album’s notes refer to the piece as tense. It has its share of edgy sections, to be sure. Just as often though, it is wide open and a remarkably easy listen.
The duo improvised the 30-minute work based on a painting created on the spot by Korean cartoonist Keum Suk Gendry-Kim.
Both Korean women call France home, which appears to have had a profound effect on their work. Gendry-Kim’s first graphic novel, 2012’s Le chant de mon père, tells the story of a Korean girl in Paris whose mother visits for the first time.
E’Joung-Ju work, at least in so far as KEDA is concerned, fits just as neatly in the tradition of European avant-garde as it does Korean traditionalism.
She and Delplanque are a formidable pair.