[ENTERTAINMENT]Seasoned band ends five-year hiatusSomeday, music historians may write how Korean music in the 1990s was dominated by ballads and dance music. But they might include a footnote about the emergence of more colorful and less predictable bands like Spring Summer Fall Winter.
The two-man band with the four-seasoned name blends rock, jazz and pop in its deep and expansive musical foundation. Categorized as fusion-this or fusion-that, they are often mentioned as one of the top artists in many musical styles. The two 39-year-old members just released their seventh album, "Bravo My Life," after a five-year recording drought.
The band recorded its first album in 1988. After that, it remained near the center of the turbulent music scene of the 1990s, at a time when many artists and styles dramatically rose and fell. But Spring Summer Fall Winter adhered to its initial pioneering spirit, and has retained its fan base over the years.
In an industry where singers typically release two albums a year and appear as much as possible on television, the band's extended silence aroused a lot of interest in its new album. "We didn't take so long in making this album on purpose," one member, Chun Tae-gwan, says. "We just put deep thought into it and came up with a lot of songs."
His partner, Kim Jong-gin, says, "I've realized more and more that making music the genuine way is tough, and that listening is as important as creating sounds."
Indeed, in a world of here-today-gone-tomorrow, style-over-substance performers, being genuine about anything in music is hard. But Chun and Kim say that if they can honestly feel that their music is genuine, that is all that matters.
People familiar with the band speculate that this new album will be a watershed in the band's career. Unlike in their sixth album, when they seemed to have reached an artistic peak of polished, sharp production, the 17 cuts on "Bravo" are more down-to-earth and acoustical.
The two musicians used to say that the more they listened to music, the less interested they were in anything from before the 1980s. But the new album packs perceptible influences from the 1970s, including hooks that bring to mind some of Stevie Wonder's best work.
The highlights of the new release include a cover of Lee Chang-hee's "One Cup of Reminiscence" from the 1974 movie "The Stars' Hometown" and a flute solo on another track by the accomplished jazz saxophonist Lee Jung-shik.
The overall theme of the album is pessimistic, but it retains a ray of redemption. The lyrics and the music speak of life's bleak loneliness, but also of the inexhaustible hopes inspired by its hardships. Plaintive saxophones convey that spiritual blend of heartache and hope.
The band will be performing a New Year's Eve concert at Sejong University's Daeyang Hall from 8 to 12 p.m. For information call 02-3838-228.
by Choe Jae-hee