There’s something about this album that just satisfies me. I don’t necessarily think it’s innovative in terms of what it is doing with its sound. There’s a mish-mash of styles present on this collaborative album; it pulls from current trends in indie R&B and rap, neo soul and funk, and alternative Korean rock. The tempo throughout is relatively slow and at no point was I ready to stand up and and dance. However, I found myself perfectly content to bob my head back and forth at roughly 80 beats per minute for the entire 53 minute run time. Maybe in other circumstances these things would be to the album’s disadvantage. But here, Code Kunst somehow makes it work.
The best part of this album is how it knows what it is, abandoning pretentious aims for authenticity. This album isn’t trying to be innovative. I don’t even necessarily think it’s trying to be successful by any means. Instead the focus is on the music itself. While listening to this album, I could almost imagine all of these different artists collaborating in some homey basement studio, bouncing chord progressions and lyrics off one another and then trying out another musical idea. A relaxed, creative atmosphere where each artist was allowed the space to explore and consider each musical decision. The fact that the album features at least 20(!!!) different artists represents this as well. The album isn’t about each artist having their own moment to shine but instead coming together to create a thoroughly authentic, well-considered, and overall consistent album, with the album’s aesthetic superseding each artist’s unique style. That isn’t to say that the artists lost their individuality, but instead that Code Kunst was able to use each artist’s strengths in line with his overall goals for this project. With Code Kunst at the helm, of course.
This is evident in the intro, “Artistic”, which simply repeats “We are artistic” for a little more than 45 seconds over guitar and filtered samples, setting the stage for what to expect: an album focused on the artistry in album creation. The “Fire Water Interlude” too seems to almost invite the listener to consider how the song was crafted before drifting into its finished product,“Fire Water”, a chillingly satisfying downtempo jam carried along by G. Soul’s breathy, almost ethereal vocals and Tablo’s moody rap. “MORE FIRE” also seems to be more an experiment in musical ideas than anything else and allows us into Code Kunst’s thought process of what he (and probably any number of other artists collaborating) wants this album to explore musically.
I’m always a sucker for collaborative albums because I think there’s something about them that always puts the music and art before everything else. When there is so many ideas and artists in one place, there must be compromise and modesty in the act of creation. And if there isn’t, the album as a whole tends to suffer. However, Code Kunst enables a graceful collaboration for this album, managing to get all these different artists to come together and create a well-realized, coherent album that never seems to stray from its downtempo slowjam aesthetic, always representing something authentic, heartfelt, thoughtful and satisfying in terms of sound.
My personal favorites for this album are “Fire Water”, “StrOngerrr”, “X”, “PARACHUTE”, “White AnxiEty (Outro)”, and “Don’t Shoot Me MAMA”. Though “X” and Suran’s part in “Beside Me” do make me wish there were more females artists featured and invited to participate on this project…