Yaeji - With a Hammer Music Album Reviews

Yaeji - With a Hammer Music Album Reviews
Yaeji’s debut channels a lifetime’s worth of anger into an airy blend of synth-pop, jazz, techno, and ambient. It’s a generous, understated exploration of rage as a source of creative renewal.

The great women artists of modern history knew that the most intense, powerful kind of rage may wield a hammer, but the hammer is the means and not the end. Tracey Emin’s bed lies unmade, soiled and strewn with detritus. Betye Saar’s glass Aunt Jemima bottle is recast as a Molotov cocktail, a Black Power fist gripping the wick. Yoko Ono offered audiences scissors to snip her clothes, an invitation to violate, and perhaps consider, a woman. Each piece is a symbol: the physical manifestation of the fury within, confrontation as a conduit for something greater, something that affects a shift.

On With a Hammer, Yaeji offers it all up: the person, her rage, and the symbol. The Korean American New Yorker fabricated two aluminum sledgehammers that she keeps nearby at home and in the studio, blunt instruments as signifiers: power, protection, comfort. She wields one on the cover of With a Hammer, thrown casually over her shoulders—the way construction dudes do in the male imagination—and glances sideways, either daring the viewer to step to her or inviting us to join in. 

Yaeji has said that With a Hammer, her full-length debut, was created in a maelstrom: suppressed childhood memories, rolling waves of alienation, anger at increased violence against Asian Americans, revelations during the Black Lives Matter uprisings of 2020, that euphoric pique when you finally realize you’re really not as small as the world would have you believe. In an accompanying
-page booklet of her artwork, outfit photos, and song sketches, she includes an epic comic about a wizard dog that helps her unleash her anger—it emerges through her mouth in hammer form, of course—and the concept is both sweet and unexpectedly moving. In her own fury she locates creativity and beauty, experimentation and scrutiny, acerbity and warmth. In destruction, hammers create anew, and Yaeji seeks her own kind of rebirth, venturing musically beyond the club and finding deliverance in the sound of her voice.

Here, the infectious house music on which she built her career makes way for the space between the notes, and her melodic acumen is clear and often gripping. Commingling synth-pop (“Done (Let’s Get It),” “Away x5”) with classical and jazz (“I’ll Remember for Me, I’ll Remember for You”) and exploring the outskirts of techno and ambient, Yaeji’s self-actualization comes as she tries to disentangle the inner workings of a big, freaky universe. On album opener “Submerge FM,” a bilingual contemplation of space and time, she interrogates conventional concepts of past and present and how their authority affects our collective sense of community: “I can see myself in you and yourself in me, and we’re all a part of one,” she harmonizes in a nigh-transcendent state, flute trills crafting curlicues around her promise. 

Yaeji assembled a collective of friends to play and sing on With a Hammer: Collaborations like the sumptuous “Happy,” with Baltimore musician Nourished by Time, and contemplative “Ready or Not,” with NYC producer K Wata, embody the philosophy that in community, satisfying new artistic avenues open up. “Michin,” with fellow producer Enayet, roils with sub-bass as Yaeji readies herself to smash the negative self-talk, and maybe some state property along the way. “How you like it now?” she asks in an alto snarl, the rhetoric of a street confrontation. It’s the part when tension approaches triumph, when the audience begins to cheer. As she works through her bruises, she seems to reach the conclusion that fearlessness and hope are the only response to social and internal plagues. Strengthened with resolve, Yaeji even offers her services: On “1 Thing to Smash,” with the producer Loraine James, she sings in Korean that she’ll smash up “what’s distressing you” over a soothing bouquet of ambient flute and synth.

With a Hammer captures Yaeji's emotional transformation, a painful but necessary part of getting older. In the newfound freedom to break stuff, she chronicles her growth as a musician and, perhaps, as an Asian American woman artist disposing of presumptions and circumstances beyond her control. “Passed Me By,” a stunning highlight built on cinematic synth chords and an analog drum kit, is an offering to her former self, a fusion of child Yaeji with the grown, protective adult. “Anything that touches me will evaporate,” she sings airily, as if in prayer, “And fly higher and higher.” Half of rage is confronting the sorrow that births it and watching it metamorphize. Witnessing the chrysalis is With a Hammer’s most generous gift.
Share on Google Plus

About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Yaeji - With a Hammer Music Album Reviews Yaeji - With a Hammer Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on April 17, 2023 Rating: 5


Post a Comment