The Colliding Beings, Chi-Da
Jeogori; Return to Life; The Hope Landed; The Sacrifice; Curtain Call
Liner Note | Album “The Colliding Beings, Chi-Da”
Ever-changing to the Utmost
by Min Gaph Seo Jeong
Hitting. Eunhye Jeong hits the piano while Soo Jin Suh beats the drums. Il-dong Bae ‘strikes’ with his voice and
JI Park slaps her cello. [The Colliding Beings, Chi-Da] is a live recording of the concert “Chi-Da” in Audio Guy in
Tongui-dong, Seoul, Korea. Jeong, the pianist, released a free improvisational solo piano record entitled [Chi-Da:
Be Silent as Loud as Possible] in 2018. The following year, she invited three other musicians to perform her
The expanded ensemble of four adheres to free improvisation as its primary performance practice just as in
Jeong’s solo piano album. Jazz without improvisation is arguably not jazz, thus the fact that the quartet
improvised in and of itself does not seem to hold any significance. Jeong, Bae, Suh, and Park, however, come
closer to the essence of free improvisation. The four, after a brief soundcheck, fiercely dove into their
performance as the concert began.
They performed 5 pieces at the concert: , , , ,
. Songs that are part of this repertoire are pretty lengthy; most of them exceed 10 minutes while
was over 25 minutes.
However the distinctive character of this album is more than the unusually long individual tracks; it is also the
album’s aesthetic approach. Jeong makes quite a disparate decision in collaborating with Pansori vocalist Il-
dong Bae. Unlike many previous jazz and crossover projects that employ elements of Korean traditional music,
Jeong never follows or restrains herself to the particularly matching Jang-dan, the rhythmic cycle, Ga-rak, the
melodic figures in a specific mode, or the narratives given by the lyrics that each Pansori song suggests.
Instead, she hastily follows the musical path that the inspiration paves in her mind and eagerly captures it as
precisely as she can. Improvising freely is about opening the performer’s mind and drawing out the sounds
residing in her subconsciousness. It is also about immersing herself in the sound-making of other performers
and following the musical paths they create. At times she would abruptly stop to tell stories of her own. Jeong
and the other three performers prove that the act of free improvisation registers the moments beyond
During this concert, each performer goes and plays ahead and behind alternatively. There is no particular order
or theme. The piano starts, the cello joins in, the voice breaks out then disappears in no time. The drummer
plays the same way. It is there but gone, and it is gone but there. The Pansori numbers, too, frequently change
and does not stick to a certain repertoire.
Therefore, the best way to appreciate this record is to respect the ever-changing soundscape as it is. All sounds
move together bonded yet they appear not tied to each other when they get louder or softer, pull or release
different Jang-dan, or pop up or fade away. As each independent sound breaks out, flows and announces itself,
they all seem to go their own ways. Yet they become one body secretly and mysteriously connected to each
other. ‘Correspondence’ might be a better-suited expression than words like ‘interplay’ or ‘ensemble’ to describe
this kind of musical communication; one fully exposes her own existence and lets the others stand out vividly
even more by doing so. All performers become the backgrounds and, at the same time, the leading performers.
The abundance of these correspondences not only maximize the texture and the breadth of each instrument but
also immediately elevate the music to the essence of free improvisation.
Any successful improvisation as such depends largely on the ability of each musician’s compositional skills that
operate momentarily throughout the entire improvisatory performance. However, it would be impossible to
achieve unless everyone becomes the footholds and backbones for each other, sensing and corresponding
within a unified sound world. Merely providing a supporting role while hiding one’s own self would not help to
achieve this level of harmony. At times, one must intrude, embrace, and play against and with each other. It is
like opening a musical scene without a plot, or building a new world without imagination, not in the slightest.
There is a beginning yet the story is limitless with no end. In the first track , ‘Sarang-ga’, one of
Chunhyang-ga repertoires, appears, then follows ‘Jeogori’, a song that students of the Jo-seon Schools in Japan
sing in class. It fills the music with historical and societal meaning, which Jeong’s musical methodology proves
expert at capturing.
A gloomy and tense atmosphere stands out in . It is persistently lamented and even cold-
hearted as if it testifies to the end of human life and its pain. The weight of life, however, is something one
cannot simply give up. The heaviness of life deepens even more as it meets Simcheong-ga in Jung-jung-mori
Jang-dan. , a song entitled to encapsulate a hopeful future, lasts over 25 minutes and
proceeds to the freest state of improvisation throughout this record. Ever-changing Jang-dan, protruding ga-rak,
and the emerging and vanishing Pansori, continue as though it had always been doing so. Mournful and
desolate music consistently transforms itself. , which was composed in a graphic score form that
Jeong calls “art score”, commemorates the victims of the Sewol Ferry accident. The music calls for bringing
attentiveness to the state of current affairs, urging contemporaries to take action for a better present and future
so as to not let the victims’ lives go to waste. As the severity of sorrow closely tightens listeners’ emotions, the
music crosses over from despair and ultimately transcends to hope. On this weary path of suffering, becomes the requiem. The voice grieves with an anguished heart, and each instrument consoles the
unforgettable pain of the tragic experience, faithfully delivering the responsibility to those who remain.
The concert wraps up with a relatively shorter piece, that picks up a cheerful and rhythmic vibe. In this last
piece, the psychedelic aura stirs the air and keeps the audience focused until the end of the entire record. A
musical journey has no frames or walls – only endless possibilities exist. Somewhere along the way, we meet
and listen to this music that the quartet presents. It becomes fresher and freer as one listens; it is mysteriously
astonishing all the more.
Album uploaded by Eunhye Jeong