Photo: Dan Medhurst
박혜진 Park Hye Jin's trancelike brand of house moves at its own pace. It is dance music that feels unbothered by the outside world, more interested in exploring the complexities of the artist's own world in excruciating detail than it is in creating adrenaline-laced escapism. It's little surprise then that Park's debut album arrives as one of the most introspective, interesting, and challenging projects of recent memory.
In many ways, Before I Die can be a difficult listening experience. Over 15 spellbinding tracks, the Seoul-bred, Los Angeles-based rapper, singer, and producer regularly challenges preconceived notions of what dance music is and ought to be, at times exploring diversions that exist closer to performance art piece or meticulously-crafted composition of abstract sonic poetry. These fragments of poetry are often conveyed in Park's native Korean over soundscapes that are beautifully sparse, giving each distinctive production element the space it needs to come to life.
The eponymous "Before I Die," which sees Park switching up between hard-hitting flows and nonchalant confessionals about missing her family, is one particular standout moment that sees the full range of the Seoul artist on full display. And it's truly remarkable just how much range there is to be found on Before I Die. Even tracks like "Can I Get Your Number" and "Whatchu Doing Later" that feel like mirror images of another, connecting loose narrative threads, show off the disparate places Park is able to take similar ideas, from anxious self-questioning to brash, unshakable bravado.
The latter half of the album, most notably "Sex With Me (DEFG)" - a seeming follow-up to 2018's "ABC" - and the hi-hat-laden "Never Die," serve as a thematic turning point for Before I Die. Venturing into more club-ready ruminations, Park cements herself as an artist and producer without limits. Whether you need to score your night out or your innermost thoughts, Before I Die is here for you.
Listen to Before I Die below: