49 Morphines: the unpredictable tension of South Korean post-rock
Sometimes music can be so vivid and graspable that it allows the listener to create a visual representation, like listening to a record soundtrack a movie that doesn’t exist. ‘Partial Eclipse,’ the only full-length release by 49 Morphines, is one of those albums.
This post-punk five-piece started playing in Seoul, South Korea in 2003. In spite of a 14-year-long career, their discography only consists of one EP from 2004 and the aforementioned LP released in 2008.
49 Morphines play an impeccable mix of screamo and post-rock, similar in a way to their Japanese neighbors, Envy – yet this sound is more complex and particular. The contrast between soft and explosive is less balanced and predictable. At first, an Explosions In The Sky-like tenderness leaks through quiet and poignant guitars that never feel comforting, as the violence that comes before and after is unprecedented. The rhythm gets fast, crammed with ever-changing drum tempos and frantic guitars equally inspired by hardcore and metal. The listener’s awareness of the upcoming tempest is enough to turn even the softer moments in a vortex of tension and anxiety.
It’s been nine years since the release of ‘Partial Eclipse’, and meanwhile, some of the band members have started new bands; Noeazy plays a particularly furious type of metalcore while Jambinai mixes post-rock with traditional Korean folk instruments. Yet 49 Morphines still play a couple of shows every year, and they might even release something new in the near future according to an interview from last year.