K-POP / REVIEWS

[Review] [Album] Kwon Soon Kwan – ‘A Door’

2013_kwon soon kwan_a door

written by: drowningn00b
Artist/Album: Kwon Soon Kwan – ‘A Door’
Genre: Ballad
Release Date: April 11, 2013

The last time the world heard from No Reply, it was for the mini-album, ‘[,]’, a collection that moved No Reply from the drama and multi-layered LP, ‘Dream‘. In ‘[,]’, as the cover suggests, the duo, Kwon Soon Kwan on piano and vocals and Jeong Wook Jae on guitar, added lighter elements for a care-free sound. Kwon Soon Kwan then produced tracks for Park Ji Yoon and Nine9, and dropped off the map until the release of his debut solo record, ‘A Door‘. Combining the big elements of ‘Dream’ and the joy and adventure of ‘[,]’, ‘A Door’ is a highly produced album, but does it suffer for it?

The promo cycle for the album started with the release of its teaser single, “Across the Street”, a somber piano and strings ballad with little else to cloud the track. It’s an affection song, with great vocal work by Mr. Kwon. Here, and throughout the record, his voice, able as it is, goes far to hide his medium range. Simple in its execution, “Across the Street”, and the song that follows, the waltz “긴 여행을 떠나요”, take a couple of instruments and create lovely melodies, fit for old movies. It’s a trick that some can’t master, how to make a few sound round and full of emotion, without the aid of drum machines and synthesizers.

This production style builds on itself for the reflexive, “그렇게 웃어줘”, where the feeling of loss gets louder as the strings ramp up and the piano goes into a frenzy. For those that have heard Park Ji Yoon’s ‘Tree Of Life‘ (and how can you not?), you know that one of the strengths of that track is how it builds from a whisper quiet beginning to a whirlwind of synth and guitar sounds. Mr. Kwon excels at this song composition style, like the classic feel of the ballad “우연일까요”, and the smooth jazz-esque number, “변하지 않는 것들”. Both, different in style, get louder and busier, without clashing layers to detract from the songs. With the piling on, Mr. Kwon manages to make everything work together to one idea, as if the next addition is the logical step forward in these songs.

Regardless of what he’s singing about, there’s a thread of joy throughout ‘A Door’. Taking a cue from Nell, the tracks “Keep Going” and “별 (Star)” feature a full rock band, with him on the piano and horns for accents. Out of the eleven tracks, these are the fastest songs here, with the former taking a romantic approach, while the latter is more inspirational. Soon Kwan’s approach to ‘A Door’ is about trying new things and still delivering the highly produced music fans expect from No Reply, and the record succeeds. Exploring uncharted territory while still remaining true to an original vision is hard and Kwon Soon Kwan’s ‘A Door’ pulls it off effortlessly.

==

Music, in the right hands, can take you places. William Orbit’s electronic interpretation of “Swan Lake” is modern-day loneliness, wanting human connection but fearing it at the same time. If you’ve never cheated, you can feel the desperation of being the “other one” in a relationship with Brown Eyed Girls’ “Abracadabra”. It’s not often that an entire record feels this way, but Kwon Soon Kwan manages just that in ‘A Door’. From spare piano ballads, to sweeping string waltzes and big horn rock songs, the record is a set of wide-eyed curiosity and musical sophistication. A fabulous debut from a well-known name, “A Door” is not to be missed.

==

Scorecard

Home Again
.75
그렇게 웃어줘
1
우연일까요
1
Keep Going
1
건너편
1
긴 여행을 떠나요
1
Tonight
.75
Star
1
Points scale
0 – could do without
0.5 – mediocre/filler
0.75 – pretty good/grew on me
1 – liked immediately
One More Time
1
변하지 않는 것들
1
A Door
1
Total Points
10.5

Points to stars conversion: [(10.5/11) x 5] + 0.25*

5/5


*there is a 0.25 bonus for every album. The logic is that, if every song were “pretty good”, it’s a 4-star album.

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