Review Summary: The Glow Pt. 2 Pt. 2
Asian Glow is an anonymous emo/noise-pop bedroom project from Seoul, next. You know what Asian glow is; draw your own conclusions as to why the project is named as such. Their/his/her/whoever’s new album Cull Ficle
is a bittersweet electric mopey bolt of joy, packed with jagged waves of fuzz, coursing melodies that bleed into one another like half-regretted daydreamed days on an old calendar, and an attitude to both rhythm and dynamics that is just as likely to rush the album three paces forward as it is to plonk its feet up at any given moment. By the sum of its parts and the thrusting pathos of its tone, it’s an emo record through and through, but there’s so much fission behind its hotblooded shifts of intensity that it bypasses the ennui and overbearing earnestness commonly associated with its Midwestern US correlates. Many an emo record has been built around inviting its audience to share the weight of its baggage; Asian Glow spare us the bother, throwing theirs skyward with a delicious abandon.
On top of that, Cull Ficle
is thoroughly adept at making old tricks its own. Asian Glow keep their acoustic guitars lofi and underscore them with enough waves of amplified overdrive to all but erase the difference (“들판”); they feint at starting and stopping their tracks so many times that the moment they finally let rip somes with the surprise of a forgotten promise suddenly realised rather than the telegraphed gratification of a traditional climax (“Circumstances Telling Me Who I Am”); their most exuberant outpourings feel impossibly restless even as they let loose into perhaps the most cathartic walls of noise you’ll hear this year (“카리스마 대빵큰오리”). In this sense, the album’s approach to release is thoroughly non-committal, further reflected by how each song maps out different configurations of the same emotive and dynamic beats rather than actively building on anything laid down over the course of its sequencing. This runs the risk of homogeneity, but there’s enough desperation and energy in Asian Glow’s all-powerful fuzzy layerings that it’s as invigorating to hear them run up the same hill across consecutive playthroughs as it is from song to song. This version of Sisyphus has more than enough residual angst, melodic flair and DAW plug-ins to flesh out an infectious reminder of why his act is such a recurrently compelling one.
Aptly enough, Cull Ficle
’s closest parallels aren’t yesterday’s Midwestern fads, but now-aged rock opuses that attained timelessness through similar songwriting kineticism, raw tones and sheer depth of conviction: The Microphones’ The Glow Pt. 2
and Bloodthirsty Butchers’ Kocorono
spring to mind. Cull Ficle
doesn’t have quite the same diversity or innovation of either of these; it’s an excellent bedroom record not an era-defining staple, but I have a hunch it’ll preserve its thrills just as well.