November 30, 1999
This is a very interesting paring of musicians. Sang Won Park is a master at playing the kayagum. This is a kind of 12-string zither, its bended-note properties are often heard to be akin to blues guitar inflections. Jason Kao Hwang is a virtuoso violin player. In this setting both musicians push, pull, intertwine and envelope each other to create an otherworldly combination. The two have been playing together since 1990 in the Far East Side Band but this is their first outing as a duo. The opening track, Listen begins as quite an experimental track. I should mention that Sang also sings along on some of the tracks like Ari Rang (ancient Korean folk song), which is a bit more traditional oriental inspired music. Grassy Hills is a long 15 minute piece with traditional as well as very challenging exchanges occurring. Third Sight has a quite shocking start and both musicians play into each other but with quite dissonant interplay, despite this song being described as a modern folk song. The string interplay in this track is quite amazing. The liner notes refer to Bartok and I would not disagree. The CD closes with Embers and Jason starts it off with some solo violin before Sang comes in with some complementation play. Both of these men are masters of their instruments and make a very special musical connection. The Asian influence is present in many pieces but this is new modern music played at a high level... beyond most people, I am afraid...