Review: Jelly Bark – BARK, PARK! (self-released, Jan 19)

“Sounds collected by recording walks with human Bom, Maltese Bbangdol, and Jindo dog Yeonhee. Pigs Saebyuk and Jandee, and countless other beings participated. It’s the first collective album.” Translated from Korean, these are the only words auxiliary to the music itself that give context to BARK, PARK!, the debut release from Jelly Bark, a project ostensibly composed of all of the aforementioned “beings.” Bom is a silent guide of sorts, initiating the recording process for each track but remaining both physically and sonically removed to direct emphasis toward the artist in focus, and thus we end up learning a great deal about all of them. Bbangdol is first, a quiet and determined contributor who effects various subtleties all drawn into a trotting forward momentum, barely audible breath and gentle jingling pulls of the leash and pitter-patter feet on wood and concrete (“Jazz & Dinosaur” is positively gorgeous). Yeonhee is more vocal, scattered, active: loud, breathless panting and the click of toenails on the ground dominate most of the two parts of “Ballad in NATURE,” in which there are great moments of connections with other dogs barking and howling in the distance; and the free, unconfined bounding and curious scrabble of “Without Leash” are wonderful. Pensive soundscapes featuring various birds and the pigs Saebyuk and Jandee follow, and if you weren’t spellbound already, the closing “A Companion Songline” diptych is a stunning exercise in everyday concrète collage that concludes by closing a loose, wide loop. A beautiful and important work of art.