The Shining Sea
A guitar and a voice may sound as unremarkable a combination as supermarket cheese and yesterday’s bread, but not the way Ben Monder and Sunny Kim do it. The American guitarist and Korean singer have taken the format’s innate intimacy, intertwined it with the deep mutual understanding of two instinctive improvisers, and then opened up the musical horizons in all directions.
While Monder’s electric guitar backdrops are often so subtle as to be almost demure, on his own Late Green he compounds effect on effect until a great tide of sound is rushing at you, and Kim’s singing suddenly seems as fragile as a champagne flute at a dance party. Although her voice can sometimes be emotionally opaque it carries echoes of the uncanny purity of a boy soprano’s, only with a much greater range. Their material also ranges widely, from originals to standards to a Korean pop song. The album was recorded live, something you would never pick from the sumptuous production and Kim’s consummate control of the real-time electronic processing of her voice.