Jaurim (자우림) – A Window Into the Korean Rock Music Scene

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One of the best bands in the Korean rock music scene has got to be Jaurim (자우림; 紫雨林; forest of purple rainfall). Their songs are iconic, harping back to the classic sound of yesteryear. Jaurim has a flavor similar to many rock music groups with female lead singers like The Cranberries, Garbage, or Nightwish. The band is made up of lead singer Kim Yoon-ah (김윤아), bassist Kim Jin-man (김진만), and guitarist Lee Sun-kyu (이선규).

Their beautiful melodies and musical arrangements show sincerity towards their own creation. Jaurim knows that they are a rock band, being very sure about what they wish to communicate. It is this awareness of identity that has kept them going for twenty-two years since their inception. While there has been an evolution over this long period of time, their core remains the same, bringing fans back to them.

Kim Yoon-ah’s electrifying voice and singing techniques are immediately recognizable the first time you hear Jaurim. They parallel the likes of Dolores O’Riordan from The Cranberries and Shirley Manson from Garbage. Her vocal texture makes her as one of the most unique voices among Korean female vocalists, and makes her one of the most talented vocalists among Korean rock musicians. The reverberation in her voice as she hits phenomenally high notes is definitely not one I find everyday among Korean singers.

Discovering Korean music diversity

I actually found Jaurim through M Countdown, a Korean music competition television show, which usually features young idol groups. It was striking to see a woman with a guitar crooning to Seumool dasot, Seumool hana (스물다섯, 스물하나; Twenty-five, Twenty-one) from their album Goodbye, grief. It took me days to locate the band through YouTube until I ran into the song Icarus (이카루스), from the same album. I heard the song once and was in love. As I dug for more on Jaurim, I ended up finding a treasure trove of songs.

Whether a solemn song like, Wi-ro (위로; comfort), a symphonic melody like Anna, or just an upbeat song like their most famous, Magic Carpet Ride (매직 카펫 라이드), Jaurim delivers a full package. While listening through a single album, there are tons of feelings that one experiences showing how deeply one can associate with music. They are by far a very important part of the Korean rock music scene because of the distinct sound and vocals that remain unparalleled.

Jaurim’s breadth and depth

Jaurim’s sound has the ability to morph into various versions of rock music from differing time periods in a single album. Take Goodbye, grief as an example. Dear Mother has elements of The Beatles’ Let It Be, as it builds up pace from a slow song until it reaches its climax with a very bluesy sound. Nim-ah (님아), on the other hand, goes for a more contemporary British rock vibe, something like the Arctic Monkeys. Yet, when it comes to the singing, it makes use of some traditional Korean vocal techniques. Songs like Dancing Star and I Feel Good, stand as classic Jaurim music, since it is a style the band has been producing since their inception. Other songs of this nature include, Idol, Il-tal (일탈; Deviation), Oh Honey!, Summerday Blues among many more. All of these songs remind me heavily of groups like The Cardigans and Sixpence None the Richer but the sound is still unique to Jaurim alone.

While I have thrown in many references to help, those curious about the Korean rock music scene can understand roughly where Jaurim falls; it would be unfair to say that their sound has been created from external sources only. The mere fact that they can incorporate so many musical styles into a single sound proves the great skills they possess. It is a shocker that in a country where musical groups do not last long, Jaurim has stuck together and made music for the past twenty-two years. Their latest album released in June 2018, eponymously titled Jaurim, just like all other albums, is a gem as well.

Jaurim is highly recommended for all interested in Korean music. You surely will not be disappointed!

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