Thuistezien 289 — 07.06.2021

Symptom Bauhaus Music Program

With Bakáh, you enter an ever-morphing world of electronic sights and sounds, and a state of stable instability. There is a strong and clear voice in her work, leaving a clear imprint on her output. Yet at the same time her work is constantly elusive, and always shifting into something new. It is a world of slow-moving transitions, in some ways utilising similar in strategies to those used by minimalist composers from the 60s and 70s, where slow progressions transform an initial idea into something new: You think you may have a grasp of the repeating material that begins the work, but you soon discover you are witnessing a transforming process in the making. And the results for the listener can be transformative as well.

Many of the sounds Bakáh uses refer to electronic dance music and techno, but her deconstructivist approach alters them into complex soundscapes peppered with now insular feeling individual sounds of electronic drum hits. They almost create a beat, but not quite. The impetus to dance is transformed into a world of abstraction and digital wonderment, and soon the hints of a drum machine groove are engulfed into a wider, large and complex digital world. There are some more clearly danceable moments unveiled in her sets, but they don’t seem to be the main focus of Bakáh’s musical explorations. She first presents to us many disparate elements of electronic music making, and at times she then brings them together into her own unique beat driven moments.

At times you are drawn into industrial sounds that somehow become meditative and inviting, even if they might seem at first like the sounds you aim to avoid in daily life. In a world that is overtly mechanized, and fully integrated with machines, computers and constantly in the grip of noise pollution, Bakáh seems to transform the echoes of these elements into a slow-paced space for contemplation.

At other times, the sounds that Bakáh introduces start to distort, and sometimes are pushed to the point that they become almost unrecognizable. In these instances, you might be for a moment drawn outside of Bakáh’s digital world, and back into the room you are sitting in, experiencing speakers overwhelmed by loud volume. It reminds us that the digital world Bakáh invites us into and that we can fall inside of is still transmitted to us physically through speakers, and only becomes apparent in our physical realm, in the room we are in when listening to her music. Then somehow the sounds mellow out again and clear up, and we are shifted into the calm and serene world of drones, once again back inside a binary universe. The true magic of Bakah’s work is how these different worlds she conjures shift in and out of each other. Sometimes these separate worlds seem to circle in and out of focus, drawing our imaginations between different planes in a way that is surprising but yet feels smooth and natural.

You are somehow always between a digital and a physical world, a dream world and a world of cold tactile machines, somewhere between serene calm and intrusive industrial sounds turned meditative. These are many of the situations that Mint Park, the artist behind Bakáh explores in her music, live visuals, installations and art works. Originally from South Korea and with strong ties to Seoul’s contemporary music and art scene, Mint Park has also been based in Los Angeles in the U.S.A. and in The Hague in The Netherlands. Bakáh is only one of the many sides of Mint Park’s output. She has moved between the creative worlds of contemporary classical composition, electronic music, worked in collaboration with traditional Korean musicians, built music making computer patches and live visual generative systems, and shown installation works in galleries. More recently, she created the work Turbulence Studies, which used programmed lights, smoke machines, and electronic sounds to create an installation / performance work that drew the audience into different creative interpretations of the idea of turbulence, resulting in a work that was immersing, at times on the edge of overwhelming and intense, yet completely inviting as it induced a dream-like electronic-tinged industrial landscape.

Text: James Alexandropoulos – McEwan