OKKYUNG LEE, improvised music experiments & cello-coloured compositions, Agata Kik, δημοσίευση CLOT Magazine [2/3/2023]
Letting sounds speak, strings sing, the South Korean-born artist Okkyung Lee is probably mostly known for her improvised interactions with the cello, while her experimental composition and improvisation practice is not limited to traditional instruments. The artist expresses her eccentric voice in an utmost interdisciplinary way, relentlessly reinventing music-making and performing on stage. Influenced by her motherland’s traditions and childhood experiences, inspired by noise, improvisation, jazz, and western classical, her sound pieces are like space-time capsules reimagining what has already passed while moulding the past-present-future collapse of a listening act.
In Lee’s pieces, the cello is often played in a very visceral way uttering guttural timbres, which resonate within the instrument’s belly. The listening subject cannot help but embrace the butterflies in the belly awakened every time the strings are plucked or scraped. Ghil, for example, has been a quintessential album expressing Lee’s unique artistic voice.
Recorded and produced by the Norwegian artist Lasse Marhaug, edited, but with no additional overdubs or other post-manipulation other than mastering, the album’s tracks were recorded in the crudest procedure possible, captured on a portable cassette recorder from 1976 that Marhaug had just bought second hand. The solo pieces sound rebelliously raw, while the sound of scraped strings and the tellurian timbre of the cello, tirelessly tear the inner ear of the listener. The repetitions and rhythmic phrases induce a trance-like underworldly experience.