Some groups really do stand out among the rest. The collaboration of Clazziquai Project is probably my absolute favorite group project ever! WIth musicians from several different backgrounds, who all are extremely talented, it's no wonder they make such great music. Romeo and Juliet, Can't Go On My Own, Gentle Rain, Take a Walk, and every song in-between has been wonderful, so you should probably know right from the start that I was elated when I knew they were releasing a new, full length, album! I'm not sure if I can really do them justice with this review, but I'm going to try my best because I really think they're worth talking about!
Clazziquai Project's 5th Album "Blessed", released February 5th 2013!
Clazziquai Project is a Electronic, Acid Jazz, House, type genre group composed of three members, most of which have ties to Canada (either being Canadian-Korean, or living there for some time). Because of the Canadian influence, their music is a mixture of Korean and English lyrics. First and foremost is DJ Clazzi, aka Kim Sung Hoon, born in 1974. He composes, produces, and mixes the music for the group, and also has a Solo Career as a DJ, where he releases music with various artists (my favorite being "This is How We Live Feat. Seul Ong of 2am). The Male Vocalist of the group is Alex, aka Chu Hun Gon, who is also an Italian Chef, and has acted in Dramas as well. Finally there's the Female Vocalist, Horan, aka Choi Soo Jin, who is a singer in her own right, and sang with Ibadi, is also getting married this year. While the group started off as just a fun pet project, originally with Alex's sister Christina as the female vocalist before she left for her own career (though she contributed every now and then), it's now grown into a well known group in Fluxus Entertainment releasing albums and Music Videos for years! Although the group was apart for a while, they got back together to release this new album (and their single a few months before) as if they had never been separated! While their older music has more of an electronic flair to it, this album sounds more acoustic, while still retaining bits of their old sound. Their music is constantly progressing with time, and maturing as they do. As far as the album art goes, they have used a Pig for their Logo from the start, and I really like the Antique look to this one. There was also a different style of album art, with the title "Sweetly" instead of Blessed, but this title and art seems to be the more dominant one.
Since this is a longer album, I'm going to try to keep the individual song reviews/descriptions relatively short.
Although this is the title track of the album, it wasn't used for the Music Video. The song starts off subtle, with the Keyboard and Alex's voice alone. It slowly builds from that point, with harmonies and more effects, until it reaches that pinnacle point of Clazziquai with the Electronic beats. The lyrics are lovely in this first track, and I especially love the "Hello" echo that happens periodically. There's a slight break in the bridge that focuses more on the vocals, before it rebuilds to end the song. It's a great first song to introduce you to the rest of the album.
- Sweetest Name
This next song is a bit shorter than the others, and the sound is almost a continuation of the previous instrumental. It sounds a bit like a song for a playful video game, like Katamari Damacy or Little Big Planet. I like the Pipe Organ sound of the Keyboard in this one, and also the Morse Code type fast pace tapping sound. The music gets higher right before the end of the song, and slowly warps out for the finish, with the line, "Love and kiss".
- Love Recipe (러브 레시피)
This is the song that they made the Music Video for, which I have to say is one of my favorite videos of 2013, so far. First, I will say that you should not watch this video on an empty stomach! My favorite part about this video isn't the food though, it's that they portray the different types of love, instead of romantic love only. There are mothers, children, friends, lovers, etc. who are all different ages, races, and genders. It made it a really beautiful video that enhanced the meaning of the song. Although the lyrics for the song are more of a love ballad, you can think of it as more than a man and a woman when you watch the video.
This is definitely one of my favorite songs off of this album. It has more of a Jazz lounge sound than the other songs, along with a slight latin flair, and you really get to hear Alex and Horan sing a duet. I love the percussion in this song the most, including the chimes, as far as the instrumental goes. This song was apparently made previously, and not released, and they chose to re-write the melody for it and release it this time around. I am so happy that they did because I can't imagine this song any other way, because it sounds so fantastic.
- She Is Great (그녀는 위대해)
After a more acoustic, instrument based beginning, you get more into the older sound of Clazziquai. The song starts off powerful and doesn't back down from there. Instead of Acid Jazz inspired vocals, there's a Hip-Hop influence in this song. There is actually Rapping in this song, believe it or not, and it's pretty good. While it's not exactly to the level of Rude Paper, Verbal Jint, or Dynamic Duo, they did a good job with it. Sure, it's not my favorite song on the album, but I still think that it's good. The Rap is all in English, and that's what impressed me the most. The lyrics are great and make sense, and the singer was able to match the beat of the music really well. Nicely done Clazzi!
- Can't Go On My Own Featuring Jinpyo Kim (함께라면 Feat. 김진표)
This song was previously released as a single, along with a Music Video. I absolutely adore this video, not just compared to their other videos, but compared to videos by other artists as well. The creativity that went into the concept, and the filming and editing itself, was awesome. The use of the green screen (which you can see in the Behind the Scenes Video) to add the cartoon-like drawings brought this video to life really made it stand out. My favorite part of the instrumental is definitely the Acoustic Guitar, it added a different sound than their usual music. There's almost a Reggae sound to the music as well, which I really enjoyed, and I though it matched Jinpyo Kim's style really well. Speaking of which, they really made a great choice with adding him for this song. As far as favorite Clazziquai Project lyrics go, these are probably one of my top picks. The concept of not being able to go on your own, alone, expresses one of the fundamental human emotions. Companionship in life is important, so it's a great take on a love song. I sing this song around the house all the time, and one of my favorite lines is when Horan sings "Be my lover, be my lover." The way she sings it gets stuck in your head for a long time, and Alex did a wonderful job vocally as well in the higher range.
- Love Right
The next song has more of a Retro Electronic sound, instead of the more modern acoustic. It also kind a futuristic sound to it as well, and somehow managed to blend the two nicely. The synthesized sound of this song is wonderful! There's a way to use voice-altering programs for strictly artistic reasons, and I think Clazziquai Project nailed it with this song. All of the different effects play well together, and the sound is really fluid. I especially like the male vocals in this song, even though the female vocals are also great, I think the tone of Alex's voice matches the music perfectly. If you prefer the electronic sound of Clazziquai, this is the song for you.
- I Will Be There For You (꽃잎 같은 먼지가)
I Will Be There For You has more of a Soft Rock sound to it. Another title for the song could be "I'll Be There With You", which would make more sense because that it the prevalent English line in the song. Horan's voice stands out the most to me for this one, the way that she sings really suits this style of music. The use of the Piano and Electric Guitars is balanced and expertly arranged. I love not only hearing the skill of the singers, but also DJ Clazzi, in the way that he can make songs from so many styles and genres all his own. While the song starts and ends softly, the middle range of it is stronger yet not overwhelming. I was really happy with this song from the first time that I heard it, and it still impressed me more each time I listened to it.
- Brown Gold Eyes
So far, on this album, this is the most Acoustic song. There are also traces of String instruments throughout the song, which add a romantic and soothing quality. They make the song sound more genuine and mature, plus I just have a weak spot for Cellos. The lyrics for this song are touching, and I love the focus on eyes (they're the window to the soul and all). Personally, I think that Brownish-Gold eyes are the prettiest color, and they really stand out and make a person look even more beautiful. (And it's not a bias based on myself, because I have Blue-Grey eyes.) Anyways, a song based purely on someone's unwavering, truthful, and beautiful eyes is excellent! This is most likely my second or third favorite song from the entire album, because I can't decide if I like the singing or music better, meaning that I think that it's just too special as a whole to choose one.
- Like a Diamond
Next it a slower Ballad themed song, with really powerful vocals, and strong words. The music has a classic Techno rhythm, that's simple and entrancing. The low-toned synth sounds in this song work really well with the atmosphere of the rest of the instruments and the singing. The way that the instruments/effects were drawn own in the beginning, and suddenly stopped to pick up the pace was a great addition. I found it interesting how they pronounced "Diamond" in the song, but that's for artistic reasons more than anything, so I can't really say the English was any worse from it. The song, overall, is really passionate in every way and was a very good addition to the album.
- Hollow and Shallow (사랑도 간다)
So far Alex stood out a bit more in the songs than Horan, mainly because of the amount of lines he was given, so I felt like this is where she got a chance to shine! I love the higher range that she has, and that slightly raspy tone to her voice. Alex is still featured in the song, and mainly contributes to the chorus and harmonies, and in a way help bring out Horan's voice even more. This song has a slight Latin flair to it during the chorus, and a really unique sound throughout the rest of it. While DJ Clazzi was able to produce a strong sound with the other songs, this one sounds very creative, and it's difficult to describe. It's one of those unique sounds that you just can't quite put your finger on, and you just keep replaying it over and over, only to discover just how complex it is. Although the theme of the song is sad, it has a really colorful kind of sound to it and is really lively, while still retaining that melancholy emotion. Also, the ending fade out is superb, it's a great finishing note to the track.
- Player's Girlfriend (여전히)
I don't think the theme of this song could be more obvious, what with the title and all. This is another shorter song, to bring the project to a close. The entire ensemble for the music has a live Jazz lounge sound to it, instead of any synthesized instruments or effects. I'll just say, what a beautiful song! It's so soft and gentle sounding, and reminds me of drifting off to sleep. The harmonies are splendid, and their voices meld with each other better than ever! Each part of this song works together to create something that is just pure, good music. After a roller coaster ride of music before it, this song really slows you down and drifts you out of the album, and the world of Clazziquai. What a way to end the album, they couldn't have picked a better song.
There it is, the comeback album by Clazziquai Project! It took me way longer to write than I would have liked, but I wanted to really listen to the album, song by song, over time and not rush it. They have said that they are perfectionists, and though they have written so many songs, only a few are released. It's because they are so critical with their music, that they can put out such great pieces for us to listen to, and I can really respect that. Clazziquai Project's sound is maturing and changing over time, but you can always find something in each song they make that reminds you of who made it. Although I love their past Albums and Singles, I think this is my favorite album so far. It is definitely worth listening to, and if you want something refreshing and creative, worth buying as well. You can buy the album digitally on iTunes for $10, or online for around $16-$18 at Kpop Plus, Yes Asia, or your preferred market. Make sure to give the album a chance, and keep up with the newly reunited group in the future! I sincerely hope that you enjoy this album as much as I did!
See you next time you jump down the Rabbit hole,