[HOT TRACK]Pop trouper's experiments work

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[HOT TRACK]Pop trouper's experiments work

People in the music industry were alarmed recently when Yoon Sang signed on with SM Entertainment, the music company that has made a science of manufacturing candy pop stars. In sharp contrast to SM's heavyweights recording artists like H.O.T, S.E.S, and BoA Yoon has been around for 15 years since his debut as a singer-songwriter. While most of SM's singing talent is groomed from adolescence, Yoon has worked as a singer, producer, radio disk jockey and television actor.

Yoon started his recording career by singing ballads that fused a fresh electronic sound with influences from world music, particularly cool, Brazilian styles. Over the years he teamed with artists from other musical areas, such as rock, and by the early 1990s Yoon was one of Korea's top adult contemporary musicians.

In recent years Yoon's shine had faded, however. When he took up with SM, many people thought he was going shamelessly commercial. But the aptly titled "Isa" ("Moving"), his fourth solo album, is a mature and smart piece of work. The only discernible concession to profitability is its lyrics they are all about love, compared with Yoon's older songs, which would explore other aspects of life. Overall, "Moving" is a solid concoction of Korean, Brazilian and experimental sounds.

The album opens with a clever intro: The string section of an orchestra is heard tuning up, then an electronic rhythm blends in, creating a mysterious, harmonious effect. In the next cut, "Sori" (Sound), Yoon plays with his voice to create an oddly appealing song.

The third track, "Isa" (Moving), has a suave samba influence, and sets the easy-listening tenor for the album.

Yoon leaves ample room to try out various styles. In "Repeat," he sets aside the synthesizers and the samba and creates a sublimely orchestrated number consisting of string instruments. In "El Camino," Yoon gives Korean traditional drums an electronic spin.

The most intriguing song is "So-weolege Mutgireul" (Asking So-wol), based on the poem "Jindallaekkot" (Azaleas), which is about a lover's decision to send his fickle partner away. In a duet with the female vocalist Jeong Hoon-hee, Yoon sings a convincing protest to the poem, asking how you can forget your beloved.

If the days are a little breezier than usual of late, maybe it's due to a collective sigh of relief from Yoon's fans. No doubt they're glad that although Yoon joined the company that excels at packaging pop stars, he is still doing his own thing.

by Chun Su-jin

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