A single quality rarely sums up anything complex, and indeed, very little isn't complex these days.
Through a spellbinding latticework of rhythms, melodies and textures, Korean dream-pop outfit HEO's 2014 track "Luna" creates something unique and much more than the sum of its parts.
But in order to understand what makes "Luna" special, one must take a close look at these constituent elements. HEO is the name of both an individual and a band, à la Sade or Alice Cooper.
HEO the person was a onetime touring member of Korean post-rock band 3rd Line Butterfly (he formed this eponymous musical vehicle in 2009).
HEO the band released "Luna" on their sophomore album, entitled "Structure," back in August. "Structure" earned huge accolades in HEO's home country, earning the Korean Music Award for the Best Dance/Electronic album in 2015.
While electronics certainly play a large role in "Luna," its stylistic roots are a combination of the moody shoegaze of My Bloody Valentine and the eternally-epic sprawl of M83. Both, notably, are bands, not DJs, emphasizing the rock side of this electro rock outfit.
The first audible bit of information heard on "Luna" is a repeating melody in the unusual time signature 7/4. Most pop music rhythmically hems towards fours or threes, but unless you're in Rush or Yes, rarely sevens.
This melody turns out to be not a melody in the traditional sense, but an unusual sort of texture.
As the rest of the song rides a more conventional four-count, this initial melody becomes an ever-changing pattern, superimposing itself in unexpected places throughout the song. It's a clever idea rooted in the ideas of 20th century minimalist composition.
One of HEO's bandmates, pseudonymously listed only as K, is credited with "sound design" on "Structure." This is telling, and can be heard in full force on the chorus of "Luna." It's during the chorus that the verse's moody guitar and foursquare synth bass are overwhelmed by a widescreen tidal wave of sound that fills a huge range of the song's spectrum.
That flood of harmonic noise spills into the listener's ears every chorus, impossible to pinpoint in its instrumental origin, but welcome all the same.
By the final choruses of "Luna," backup vocals from band member Kim Bo Yeong cascade in canon with HEO's own leading voice, creating yet another woven fabric between rhythm and melody that avoids heading in any obvious direction.
There is are few sounds here that haven't been heard on other shoegaze releases, what makes "Luna" stand apart from the rest of the song on "Luna" is how well HEO bring all of together, creating something that supersedes the genre and displays an almost classicist attention to detail.
That's not something you hear every day. Kevin Shields would be proud.
Watch the music video for the HEO song "Luna" from their latest album "Structure" RIGHT HERE
Jeff Tobias is a composer, writer and multi-instrumentalist currently living in Brooklyn, New York. As of late, he has been researching arcane systems of tuning and working on his jump shot.