“The Bass and mellow hi hat take us in. His voice carries across the chords supported by complex rhythms and trumpet additions. Clever, clean, and yet so dirty, we dig. It speaks to us with the darkness of a mysterious moonrise. ”

Oan Kim releases debut album ‘Oan Kim & The Dirty Jazz’

‘Every now and again something comes through that opens a musical window that was previously closed to you, and Oan Kim‘s ‘Mambo’ fits firmly into the latter camp’ – Joyzine

Fusing together his different musical influences, Oan Kim takes us on a journey of stylistic exploration with his new album Oan Kim & The Dirty Jazz. The former Film Noir and Chinese Army members’ new direction is jazzier and more experimental, whilst nodding to his past so far in contemporary classical music and electro rock. Oan explains ‘ It was a deliberate decision to give the jazz saxophone a front position on what would otherwise be an indie music album’.

Writing, recording and producing the record in his home studio in Paris, the multifaceted musician and filmmaker’s DIY approach allowed the tracks to evolve freely ‘without ever knowing where they would take me, operating almost in a vacuum of space and time gave me a lot of freedom’.

‘Pop music will never have that miraculous improvised flair of a good jazz solo, while jazz rarely has the enthralling efficacy of pop music. But who said music had to be as polarized as politics? So I wanted to bring together the best of both worlds.’

From the memorable motifs of ‘Agony’ to the atmospheric noisy sound beds heard in ‘Smoking Gun’, and free flowing jazz saxophone of ‘Quintet’, Oan’s music feels assured yet honest, imaginative, boldly creative and daring. Also contributing to the album are acclaimed French jazz musicians Edward Perraud, featuring on The Judge and Wong Kar Why, and Nicolas Folmer playing trumpet on Quintet, Symphony for The Lost At Sea, and Fuzzy Landscape.

Throughout the album, Kim takes influence from a range of artists including but not limited to Kurt Vile, Stravinsky, and James Holden, whilst taking note from classic jazz artists such as Miles Davis. On his style, Kim explains he puts himself ‘somewhere between Pharoah Sanders and Radiohead’.

Such influences can be heard throughout the album, with an array of different sounds and styles established. The latest single from the album ‘Agony’, inspired by Cold War Kids, features a catchy ostinato with the piano neatly interplaying throughout. Further along the album tracks such as Thelonious are more atmospheric, with intricate details and noises, and an emotive ambience with delicate vocals to match. The track, titled referring to his son’s second name (a homage to the great Thelonious Monk) is described by Kim as ‘like a lullaby’.

Having also worked as a photographer and filmmaker, receiving awards such as Swiss Life 4 Hands Award, Silver Horn of the Krakow Film Festival, Emerging Documentary Filmmaker at DMZ festival and more, Kim also takes inspiration from films throughout the album. Reflecting on his writing process, he explains ‘Hitchcock used to say: once you’re finished with the screenplay you can write the dialogues. I feel the same way about songwriting. Themes of each song come out of the music itself towards the end of the song writing process’.

With a visually driven imagination, film references to Wong Kar Wai, Fight Club, and Naked Lunch emerge on the album. The first two singles from the project Wong Kar Why and Mambo also followed with music videos directed and filmed by himself. The video for Wong Kar Why? A documentary short described as a chronicle of a romance, features candid shots of his wife Katherine that have been taken between 2016 to 2021 in various locations including Paris, Seoul, New York and Marseille, described by Kim as a ‘video of a portrait of the person I met and fell in love with over the years’.

A melting pot of sounds and influences, Oan Kim & The Dirty Jazz is sure to set Oan Kim as one of the most exciting talents to emerge on the jazz scene.


Reviewed by Nagamag on 
March 10, 2022

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