by Caleb Davis
Parannoul is a South Korean-based artist known for his unique take on shoegaze with lo-fi production and emo influences. I first heard about Parannoul through his 2021 album To See the Next Part of the Dream. While it was critically acclaimed and included some of my favorite genres, I couldn’t get all that into it. Parannoul’s public persona has also been as captivating as his music. He remains anonymous and stories of the album’s production have been the subject of great interest. According to the artist, all the instruments on it were VSTs (virtual instruments), and the vocals were recorded with a Samsung Galaxy 5 smartphone. Though I had some issues with the album’s production, I could not deny the album’s achievement, given how it was made. With his newest album After the Magic, though, he seems to have improved on all accounts.
On his Bandcamp Parannoul goes full Paul McCartney, stating “This is an album that I made with my dreams I dreamed after my 2nd album” which does a great job of summarizing the album, evident from the first track, “Polaris”. What starts off as a carefree acoustic track takes you away on a journey at around the two-minute mark. Immediately improvements in the production are noticeable and I find myself enthralled in the mix. The next track “Insomnia” keeps the energy going with breakbeat-inspired drums and glitchy instrumentals. It’s tracks like this that make me feel one of the album’s biggest strengths is its percussion, which breathes so much life into the album I rarely find myself losing attention during listens. “Arrival” starts off a little slow but towards the second half turns into this densely layered jam, with wailing guitars and maximalist piano riffs. The track runs a little long but makes the wait worth it with an explosive ending. “We Shine at Night” has some of the best arrangements on the album, showcasing how good Parannoul is at balancing his music. The ending contrasts careful orchestration with vocals that sound like they’re tearing apart to create a beautifully controlled chaos. Definitely one of the best moments on the record. Along with the sonic balance, the album also breaks up the more driven tracks with waltz-y rhythms in songs like “Parade” and “Sound Inside Me, Waves Inside You”, to make for some of the more lighthearted and hopeful songs. I find the album to be very enjoyable and packed with emotion all the way through, aside from some moments that run a little long and some just alright vocal performances. It all comes to a close with the album’s title track, which summarizes the album with all of what makes it special, one giant buildup that dissipates in a satisfying way that makes you reflect on the past hour of listening.
After the Magic is a huge sonic improvement over his previous work, bringing in strings and pianos to make it a grand experience. I love the extra sounds in between; all the cassette clicks, fireworks, crickets, etc. add a lot of personality to the mix. I think Parannoul is at the forefront of the new bedroom-produced emo generation of artists and is showing no signs of slowing down.