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Woongi releases Fire’s Dead

Chicago’s four piece Woongi produces a signature brand of synthesizer and bass driven music with melodic vocals and a cinematic sound. Their new single “Fire’s Dead” is my introduction to the band’s work and the song’s confident sonic architecture impresses me for many reasons; Woongi excels balancing the recording between airy internal movement and punchy production. It has a sharp focus from the start; Woongi shows no unnecessary inclination for stretching out musically and never overloads the track. The video released for this new single has the quartet working at the same high level. It has five star professional polish putting a premium on energy and physical charisma above all else and the unusual lighting has evocative visual qualities, but another strength lies in its individual “eye” for detail. There is an artsy visual feel for a significant part of the footage, but Woongi also avoids relying too heavily on jump cuts – the bane of many music videos.

BANDCAMP: https://woongi.bandcamp.com/track/fires-dead

Even the more idiosyncratic touches of the footage complement the edgier electronic flourishes bookending the track and peppered throughout. Woongi has discovered an approach to coupling a heavy bass pulse with sparkling guitar lines and electronic percussion in a way they can claim as their own; while they are working in a verifiable tradition, an established style, they imbue their interpretation I wouldn’t confuse with any other band. The aforementioned dissonant bookends for the song are relatively brief passages, when appreciating the track on the whole, but likewise mark the composition with singular stylishness. The chorus is another strong moment in the song – despite the thoroughly modern sound, “Fire’s Dead” is elastic enough I can easily hear it recast in other forms; a guitar dominated rock track or an acoustic version leaps to mind.

It is worth noting how rare it is when a song and accompanying video dovetail into each other so well. The previous paragraphs opens discussing how the quirkier points in the clip are so faithful to the song’s spirit, but the remaining imagery equally locks into place for the viewer; it is safe to say anyone who enjoys the track will find the video just as rewarding. The vocals give “Fire’s Dead” its emotional and melodic center while the phrasing dramatizes the subject matter with a level of vulnerability that helps makes the song accessible for a wide swath of music fans. I don’t often gravitate to this sort of music, but Woongi dispatches “Fire’s Dead” with such assertive wide-screen verve impossible to ignore.

I am weary of making sweeping pronouncements. The first flush of discovering a promising new act can often lead to sober reconsideration once the fever has passed. Woongi’s latest single, however, is an impressive next step for the Chicago four piece and the video made just as deep of an impact for me as the song. Their well-rounded talents are rare in an increasingly homogenized musical landscape and solid, tightly controlled writing nonetheless explores sonic and emotional possibilities mapped out in a way any listener can connect with. “Fire’s Dead” simmers and sparkles in turn with a melancholy ache at its core.

John McCall 

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