Galloping grooves. Massive synth melodies. Basslines that threaten us with their physicality while embedding a subtle, textured emotionality into the rhythm. Drums that devastate, guitars saturated in a guttural flange, vocals that are velvet-soft but rife with a psychedelic bend that will haunt us long after their presence is no more. Despite its vast complexities and multilayered stylization, Woongi’s sophomore album Rip’s Cuts is nevertheless a stunningly cathartic listen for both casual and serious indie rock fans alike, and it’s definitely one of the most sophisticated LPs that I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing this spring. Sporting such visceral sonic throw-downs as “Terry’s Cottage,” the singles “Not Sad Sequence” and “Fire’s Dead,” as well as thrilling deep cuts like “Rare Bird” and “Tailwhip,” Rip’s Cuts is an anthological, comprehensive look into its creators’ artistic profile that is unlike anything presented to us within the tracklist of their last release, Music for Prophet. Woongi have successfully evolved their sound into a brooding beast here, and I would even go as far as to say that they’ve raised the bar not only for themselves, but also for the scene that they emerged from.
This master mix is absolutely sublime. Not only does it allow for us to appreciate all of the grandiosity in “Sad Sequence,” “Antiques” and the engrossing “Rare Bird,” but it further exploits the natural tonality of the instrumentation in “Green M&Ms,” “Tailwhip” and “Not Sad Sequence” as well. These tracks, by and large, are experimental juggernauts that take after Dark Side of the Moon-era Pink Floyd without overindulging in the camp and bravado of progressive rock, but there’s also a handful of fiery, unvarnished pieces here that keep the album feeling decidedly more alternative than it is conventional in spirit. “Antiques” has a certain edginess to its glistening keys that one can’t help but become entranced by, and though “Tired Fortress” is marred in anxious bass and grinding treble, its focused brutality actually leaves a bigger mark on me each time I listen to it than any of the more straightforward tunes do. Are there a couple of abrasive moments? That’s impossible to deny, but it should be noted that they’re balanced out by a constant attention to the most miniscule of details within the melodic center of the music.
Their sound is surreal, but Woongi’s style of attack stands out as one of the most acerbic and original that I’ve come across in a really long time. Rip’s Cuts, in essence, takes the blueprint set forth by Music for Prophet and adds an almost avant-garde tone to its most provocative hooks, making it both compositionally and aesthetically more mature than what its predecessor ultimately was. There’s no debating that this band has truly come into their own in the last couple of years, and if this is wholly representative of where their music is taking them next, I think that it’s going to mark a major turning point for their career as a group. Few artists have shown the omnificent moxie that Woongi do in this intoxicatingly postmodern LP, and that’s probably the biggest reason why it’s been receiving the buzz that it has been lately.