I haven’t been listening to a lot of music recently. Since we tumbled into 2021, I’ve found myself obsessively, neurotically consumed by the chaos and terror this new year has already vomited up.
I’ve spent far too much time on Twitter. Gorging on news stories and commentary from political YouTube and Twitch. Escape from the jaws of coronavirus seems a long way off, and there was, of course, that failed fascist coup in the US.
But slowly, I’ve started catching up with recent indie releases. And luckily one of the first was Concentration, the latest album from South Korea’s Night Tempo.
Now I have complicated feelings when it comes to vaporwave. On one hand, I admire it as an art form and recognise its impact. But overall I find it far less satisfying than other modern subgenres like witch house and Wave.
But Concentration melted my ice a little. Largely because it’s so relaxing and undemanding. In an era punctuated with stress and terror, it’s nice to have something worth chilling to.
After a radio broadcast intro, Concentration slips into the calming “Cycle of Water”. It, well, cycles samples of running water beneath some exquisite and beautiful cello.
From there we reach “Yamanote Line”. It’s ushered in with a satisfying organ line. This tracks crackles and pops with vinyl record overlays and a lush guitar pops a cherry on top.
Overall the tracks on Concentration melt into one another. That’s not to say that there isn’t variety here. It’s just incredibly cohesive, while also allowing each track to breathe and assert its individual qualities delicately.
Weirdly, “Takeshita Street” reminds me of Coldplay when it starts. You must decide if this is a good or bad thing (I lean towards the former), but regardless it is still a magical little number that takes on a nice jazzy tone as it progresses.
“Sakura Garden” is another notable track, because it’s so blissful and summery. Its many working parts wash over you in waves. It’s the perfect song to kick back on a lounger with, sipping away on an ice-cool drink.
With Concentration, Night Tempo has created a sprawling oasis of a record. The female-fronted outro (a flip of the intro) provides a neat little send-off for an album that is so welcome, so crucial in these troubled times.
You can find Night Tempo here: