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Korean Rock Recall: Asian Chairshot Keeps It Stripped Down And Smart On 2013's 'Lord of the Basement' [AUDIO]

By Jeff Tobias | July 31, 2014 02:41 PM EDT


"When you make rock n' roll, the more you think, the more you stink."

That's a quote from David Briggs, the flamboyant American record producer who knew what he was talking about. In his work with Neil Young, Alice Cooper and others, Briggs zeroed in on what makes rock music direct. If you're trying to impress people with your intellect, you could think of a great many better ways other than playing the electric guitar.

Asian Chairshot, a Seoul-based power trio, somehow seems to have it both ways.

They embrace the primitive power of guitar-and-drums bombast while still betraying some pop music trickery. Asian Chairshot's ethos of keeping things simple but smart is best heard on the song "Lord of the Basement," an eight-and-a-half-minute epic from their 2013 EP "Mask."

Already seasoned musicians in their early 30s, the members of Asian Chairshot formed in 2011 in what they have called a last-ditch effort to "try and make a new band for the last time."

Before their debut full-length album, "Horizon" (produced by Smashing Pumpkins guitarist Jeff Schroeder) was even released earlier this year, the group had already peaked the interest of many Korean rock fans.

"Lord of the Basement" is a good example of why.

The song begins with two chords' worth of repetitive fury, a great indicator of the band's capacity for musical fireworks.

Guitarist Heenam Son bends his strings within an inch of their lives and drummer Kyewan Park bashes with tremendous abandon. The group is unconcerned with flourish, allowing each unison explosion to fully be appreciated.

Dynamics, however, are the key to accentuating these wild peaks. Clearly knowing this, the other band members quickly make way for bassist and vocalist Youngwon Hwang to introduce his semi-histrionic voice over a restrained caveman stomp.

Whispering, moaning, and breathing heavily, Hwang is an effusive, nearly effeminate counterpart to Asian Chairshot's fiercely masculine muscle.

By the time the song is in full swing, Son introduces a syncopated riff and an anthemic chorus that is ably carried along by the band's aggressive rhythm section. After another exercise in pure animal repetition, the group begins to spiral down an unexpected rabbit hole of psychedelic swirl, interrupted by another sprinting chorus.

All the while, everything is kept neat and simple: the rhythms are punchy and direct, keeping energy at a premium.

This would all feel a little cobbled-together in terms of song structure if not for Asian Chairshot's utter conviction; the group plays together with a commitment and mutual trust that keeps the sprawling piece from flying off in every direction.

When the band settles into a disquieting bridge, vocalist Hwang floats amidst a bed of digital delay, evoking Jeff Buckley's phantom falsetto. The listener can't allow themselves too much comfort in this respite; the band returns with twice their original intensity on a half-time chorus that seethes and bristles. By the time the band appears to have exhausted themselves, they offer a few more of their signature explosions and then send up a white flag, having exerted thrice the energy of your typical power trio.

Having toured Korea, Singapore and the UK, Asian Chairshot will hopefully continue their steady accrual of commercial and critical attention.

As long as they maintain their balance between direct and deep, I'd like to think David Briggs would have let it slide.

Check out Asian Chairshot's song "Lord Of The Basement" RIGHT HERE


Jeff Tobias is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, and writer currently living in Brooklyn, New York. Most recently, he has been researching the history of tuning systems and working on his jump shot. 

Tagged :  mask, lord of the basement, korean rock, asian chairshot, asian chairshot


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