The Artist/Album: Shin Joong Hyun, Beautiful Rivers and Mountains (Light in the Attic, 2011)
A Short Review: The subtitle of this crash course compilation (“The Psychedelic Rock Sound of South Korea’s Shin Joong Hyun) is misleading on several levels. For one thing, many of Hyun’s songs were written for other artists, and as a general rule, they reach well beyond the willfully stoned realm of sky high solos and roughly ground organ lines. For instance, “The Sun” and “Spring Rain” are both richly arranged ballads, free of deep-fried riffs and rife with immediate melodies.
Many of the selections on this double LP are actually slow burns, with the one bit of connective tissue being a deeper understanding of soul music. Or as Hyun himself puts it in the liner notes–a must-read if you’re even remotely interested in his movie-like back story–”Just because you are playing rhythms, it does not mean you have rhythm. If you have soul in it, then the rhythm becomes alive!”