[타블로] If you’ve never heard of Korean artist and author Tablo, then I suggest you acquaint yourself quick-smart. For mine he’s one of the most versatile composers around, with an incredible range that spans from out and out bass-heavy hip hop, to beautiful duets backed by melodic piano scores. And that’s just his solo work. His work as one-third of the hip-hop group Epik High has become increasingly diverse, with the 2012 release “99”, which plays almost like an ode to every music genre they’ve ever been inspired by in the 90’s and beyond. The lyric driven hip-hop is still there to be sure, but it’s dominated by everything from Surf Rock ballads of “The Bad Guy” to the heavy bass drops of “Kill This Love”. If you played the album to someone blind, I’d be surprised if they’d pick it as the same artist, let along the same album. It’s a mighty good album, by a mighty good group, that just happens to feature Tablo.
But for mine, the most interesting compositions from Tablo arise when he’s left to his own devices, as he was in 2011 for his first solo project. Taking the form of two EPs, Fever’s End Parts I and II, these works are amazing demonstrations of a musician who can tell a story through his compositions. From the first track featuring the unforgettable voice of Korean mainstay, Lee So-ra, Tablo makes his intentions clear – Fever’s End is an album that is written from the heart. And it shows. His solo journey starts off with the hopeless despair of “Home”, to the hopeful promise of “Try”, and to the regretful and somber “Expired”. It is 40 minute journey through what can only be described as the human condition. It is a work of art that works just as well as a collection of 10 songs as it does as an exploration of the emotional peaks and troughs of existence. And then there’s “Tomorrow” featuring BigBang’s Taeyang, wedged right in the middle at the start of the second EP, which shows just how effective Tablo is as a composer of popular music.
It’s this diversity, and the perfectly paced and structured flow of the two EPs when listened in sequence, that makes Tablo a great storyteller. Even the music itself in absence of the lyrics are so rich in emotion, that it’s something of a window into if not the soul, definitely his mind at the time. His compositions create a thick atmosphere that surrounds you as you listen to them. Video games, which often need no lyrical cues to accompany what appears on the screen, are the perfect medium for someone with the ability to create and convey feelings and emotions through music however understated its context or presence.
The Korean music scene is a diverse and wonderful place that surprises as much as it satisfies. If you’ve followed the career of K-pop and hip-hop stalwarts like G-Dragon or Mad Clown you’ll know exactly what I mean. Sitting right up there though is Tablo. For mine, Tablo is a modern musical genius, displaying versatility and range so few artists can. His innate ability to create catchy pop songs, as well as those that linger in the mind and that force you to contemplate their meaning, is in my opinion almost unmatched across the world. He creates a presence about his music when he needs to, but balances it out with music that works just as well as an ambient accompaniment to life as it does as something to sit down and contemplate, which makes him a significant creative force in the music world. It also happens to be what would make him the perfect composer for an active and dynamic medium like video games.