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A Magazine for Sheffield

박혜진 Park Hye Jin Before I Die

On her first full-length record, South Korean electronic producer 박혜진 Park Hye Jin hides her emotional tumult under a veneer of nineties nonchalance.

Released: 10 September 2021
Before I Die

Since the release of her all-caps debut (the remarkably self-assured EP IF U WANT IT), the Los Angeles-based 박혜진 Park Hye Jin has expanded her sonic scope, building on her minimal house foundations with layers of trap hi-hat, bedroom guitar and industrial electronics. As a parallel to her newly scattered sound, the album’s lyrics are thematically disparate too, acting as an unfiltered glimpse into the chaotic mind of a young adult thousands of miles from home.

She pines for her far-away family in the title track, cyclically reciting, “I miss my mom / I miss my dad / I miss my sister / I miss my brother”, like Dorothy wishing for home. Meanwhile, ‘I Need You’ repeats its desirous title as frankly as John Lennon on ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’. But while her words betray her feelings, her monotone delivery suggests that she’s over it. It’s a perplexing effect that speaks to the young producer’s resilience and determination to stick it alone: writing, producing and performing all her music herself.

Alongside her world-weary lyrics, her production has taken a darker turn. The pristine piano found on 2018’s ‘ABC’ has since accumulated dust and its presence on ‘I Need You’ is comparatively unrefined, notes tumbling and decaying like the haunting piano on Ichiko Aoba’s ‘Parfum d'étoiles’. The bitcrushed intro of ‘Where Did I Go’ evokes the Nintendo-house beat of Kero Kero Bonito’s ‘Well Rested’ while the mechanical throb of ‘Never Die’ finds itself aurally aligned with Swans’ anomalous industrial house track ‘Volcano’.

박혜진 Park Hye Jin’s music is tough to pin down. While many of her songs are repetitious in isolation, the album format suits her macroscopic sense of exploration. Before I Die lacks the structural focus of her debut EP, but its absence has given her free rein to investigate the limits of her creativity. The result is a project that is uniquely hers, held together by nothing but her own chaotic embrace.