South Korean trio Jambinai sound less like a band than a force of nature, fusing the full dramatic range of post-rock dynamics to Korean folk roots to create an exhilarating, vivid and unique fusion.

A Hermitage is Jambinai’s first album for Bella Union, recorded in M.O.L Studio in the South Korean capital Seoul, where the trio also made their 2010 EP Jambinai and 2012 album Différance. In Korean, Hermitage translates as ‘Eun-Seo’: “it means person, or creature, who is hiding like a hermit, or undiscovered,” explains Bomi Kim. “This connects to Jambinai because most people don't know us yet, or they cannot imagine how our type of music fits together.”

Jambinai’s instrumental music is coloured by Kim’s fiddle-like haegum, Ilwoo Lee’s guitar and piri (a Korean flute made of bamboo) and Eun Youg Sim’s geomungo, a Korean zither. They met studying traditional music at Korea’s National University of Arts, and found they were united by a desire to present such music in a new way, “to communicate with the ordinary person who doesn't listen to Korean traditional music,” says Lee, the band’s principal writer. This makeover, however, eschews previous Korean modernists, who Lee says have used western classical music or jazz, for a molten fusion of metal, rock and experimental sound. “We’re darker than other Korean traditional bands,” Lee adds, with considerable understatement.

Understandably, Jambinai have shocked Korean audiences unused to the kind of intensity and adventurism that the trio have made their own. Yet Différance won Best Crossover Album at the 2013 Korean Music Awards (they were also nominated for Best Jazz & Crossover Performance), which the band used as a springboard for several overseas tours, as a quintet with Jihoon Ok (bass) and Jae Hyuk Choi (drums). Reviewing Jambinai at London’s K-Music festival in 2015, The Guardian described the band as, “thrilling, unexpected and perfectly controlled,” noting their mixture of “atmospheric pieces with bursts of furious energy, with constant changes of mood and volume.”

A Hermitage starts as it means to continue with “Wardrobe”, at full force. “Many post-rock bands start albums by warming up,” Lee ventures. “And mostly people expect Asian traditional music to make something smooth for yoga or meditation. We want to break with all of that.”

The inspiration for Jaminai’s music follows suit, tapping the feelings of anger and isolation felt by a new generation suspicious of the conservative forces that seek to control them. ‘Deus Benedicat Tibi’, for example, was inspired by the 'Dae Chui Ta', a piece of Korean traditional martial music “written for the king when he marches down the street,” Lee explains. "Nowadays, especially in Korea, many give up their dreams because life gets worse every day. We have the world's highest suicide rate. Our song expresses a person who overcomes all hardship and suffering. I dedicate this song to the people who live in pain, to say, ‘You are the king in your own life’.”

‘Abyss’ is another high point, featuring Korean rapper Ignito in the album’s only vocal. “I told Ignito to create some images when he listened to the music,” says Lee. “He talks of the image of an abyss and his philosophy. Sometimes I don't understand what he says exactly but that allows me to create my own images.’

Music this rousing and beautiful, rising and subsiding in epic fashion, will doubtless trigger a flood of intense or even apocalyptic images. Yet Jambinai also represent a positive force, resisting the old ways and reinventing the future. Come join their thrilling adventure.

Jambinai have an extensive global touring schedule through the Spring and Summer including a London headline show at Corisca studios and an appearance at the Great Escape festival in Brighton prior to release. Upcoming UK live shows below:

Monday 16th May – LONDON – Corsica Studios

Saturday 21st May – BRIGHTON – The Great Escape