Park Hye Jin – How Can I

8.5

There is no doubt that it has been an exciting, whirlwind of a year for Park Hye Jin. Since making her mark in the electronic music world with her explosive 2018 EP, If U Want It, Park Hye Jin has been crafting a stellar, versatile EP, How Can I released via Ninja Tune. Rooted in her ethereal, high-energy sound, How Can I takes us on a tempestuous voyage, featuring six multi-faceted tracks full of genre-bending magic. Smoothly easing us into a spellbinding sonic pool of tranquility, “Like This” opens with distant melodic chimes, Hye Jin’s soft, mesmerising vocal samples and steady, spacey beats. A euphoric groover to kick off the EP, the track floats us into a dream-like state, yet still exudes powerful, danceable energy.  

“Can You”, on the other hand, transmutes a rapid sense of urgency; a rapid, heart-beat infused bassline is accompanied by vocals with a longing tone ‘can you be my baby?’. During a brief interlude, the voice elapses, and the raw, paradoxical lyrics sing out ‘I love you, I f****** hate you’. In contrast, the EP’s eponymous track greatly slows the tempo with a heavy bass, gentle synths and vocals repetitively asking ‘how can I call you back?’. Plunging us into a much darker, fast-paced soundscape, consisting of a prominent bass, incessant drums, along with the furious sample ‘shut the f*** up’, “NO” changes the tone abruptly. Inviting us to dance, “How Come” emanates that same firece intensity, featuring an echoed male voice and gloomy bass-lines, building up into a crescendo of clashing electronic textures.  Returning to a softer, more serene sound, “Beautiful” is the ambient closer, meandering in with oscillating synths and instrumentals, later complemented by echoing vocals. We gently slip away from the rage, awash with hard-hitting melodies and acid lines, ensuing a sense of finality.  

An arresting alchemy of emotions conveyed throughout, Park Hye Jin expertly layers a vast range of sonic textures, demonstrating her versatile palette and technical prowess as a producer. A defining feature of her work is undoubtedly her vocal samples sung in English and Korean, which seamlessly guide the listener through a turbulent, emotive journey, as well as adding a soulful, unique quality to the EP.