The Lowdown: Bandcamp has taken on a new meaning within the past year. With COVID-19 temporarily, and sometimes permanently, closing independent venues on a massive scale, touring artists have experienced difficulties trying to financially sustain themselves. To combat this, Bandcamp began its Bandcamp Friday program, during which the company waives its share of the profit to directly help artists every first Friday of the month. Bandcamp has always been a popular platform, but isolation has led people to spend more time on the site than ever, unearthing gems months after their initial release dates.
The anonymous Korean shoegaze artist 파란노을 (Parannoul) released their sophomore album, To See the Next Part of the Dream, exclusively on Bandcamp in late February, and it’s quietly been sitting there, waiting to be discovered. Approximately one month later, Parannoul has stolen the hearts of indie, emo, and shoegaze communities, and rightfully so. To See the Next Part of the Dream is a masterful work in its genre, and its lo-fi production ethos only augments the revelation of its recent discovery. This is a bona fide Bandcamp gem in every sense of the phrase.
The Good: There is very little known about Parannoul themselves. Their Bandcamp bio simply states that they’re “just a student writing music in [their] bedroom” somewhere in Seoul. The description of To See the Next Part of the Dream gives a bit more detail on the artist’s life and influences; they spend the first half of it writing about Korean musicians that had a great influence on them, but these artists disappeared from the Internet after their music faded into perpetual obscurity.
Though it would be easy to compare Parannoul to those artists, it’s not quite that simple. In fact, Parannoul has accomplished the opposite. Their music is just now gaining momentum, and their slow ascendancy into wider conversations in music has propelled them into the post-rock spotlight, however anonymous they remain. Parannoul’s anonymity is not only reflected in their alias, but in their music, as well. In the third-person, Parannoul describes their singing skills as “fucking awful,” but technical prowess isn’t the overarching goal here; it’s about crafting an atmosphere.
To See the Next Part of the Dream ranges from reverb-drenched, soft MIDI keys to fuzzed, crunchy guitars (á la ‘90s luminaries Slowdive, Ride, and My Bloody Valentine) and spends most of its runtime at near-clipping volume levels. “White Ceiling” adds layer upon layer, opening with alarm clocks that subsequently give way to overdriven guitars over the course of exactly 10 minutes. “Chicken” is built on a standard rhythmic pattern with Lee-Ranaldo-esque tones. “Age of Fluctuation” features double-tracked vocals that leave Parannoul contrasting themselves, faintly hushed on one track while screaming on another. “Youth Rebellion” bursts into a frenetic drum break seemingly out of nowhere. Each song is its own exercise in catharsis, an instrumental foundation that gives Parannoul the liberty to drown their voice amidst the noise.
The Bad: Some listeners may find To See the Next Part of the Dream’s lo-fi style and overall mix unwelcoming, but that’s part of its charm. You can practically hear Parannoul arranging their mixes and layers in real time, visualizing the mountainous waveforms when the boisterous drums of the cleverly titled “Analog Sentimentalism” kick in. You can see Parannoul cranking up the reverb dial while processing their vocals, pushing and pulling out of view like an ocean tide on the gorgeous title track. To See the Next Part… sounds like it’s composed mostly of MIDI percussion, stock plug-ins, and direct-input guitar, but Parannoul’s music is incredibly humanist. These songs have more depth in their current form than a high-budget studio production would ever lend them.
Others could be turned off by its length. Eight of its 10 songs exceed the five-minute mark, but it seldom feels self-indulgent. Parannoul gives each song its due time, allowing them to blossom and flourish into their fully realized selves before receding back into shadow. There’s no need to rush these arrangements, and Parannoul understand that. Even the shorter songs, “Extra Story” and “Analog Sentimentalism”, play out as ambitious, Odyssean journeys in the best way possible.
The Verdict: “I just hope there are more active losers like me in the world,” Parannoul writes in the final sentence of the album’s description. To See the Next Part of the Dream is an album geared toward introversion, made by an anonymous artist who buries their vocals underneath an abundance of volume. They imagine their musical influences “living their lives, disappearing from the Internet,” but with an album as compelling as this, it feels virtually impossible for Parannoul to share the same fate.
Essential Tracks: “White Ceiling”, “Analog Sentimentalism”, and “Age of Fluctuation”
Listen to To See the Next Part of the Dream in its entirety here…
To See the Next Part of the Dream Artwork