Music Review: Dreamcatcher – Fly High

img source: https://www.soompi.com/2017/07/28/watch-dreamcatcher-showcases-vocals-new-live-fly-high/

Alright we are now at the final stretch of this music video review series! Thank you for taking this journey on with me as I still cannot contain my excitement for this group that marries my two favourite music genres packed into one powerful group.

Today we take a look at the Prequel to the Dreamcatcher lore, before they were became nightmares with their latest release Fly High.

The Music:
The song starts off with a brief piano intro and once the full band kicks in there’s a noticable drop in the heaviness we’ve grown accustomed to, yet some heaviness is sprinkled in for brief moments throughout the song. It works for and against the group for a few reasons.

It took me a moment to accept this brighter side of Dreamcatcher, but the YouTube channel manager did remind us in the comments that this is indeed a prequel to their other two music videos. Keeping that in mind it makes sense that it does have this bright, happy sound, though despite the distorted guitar being a little less bassy and crunchy than before, it’s still there and brings the heaviness here and there throughout the song.

At first I felt like the pre-chorus with the chugging riff was too short, that it could have gone another couple bars. With Dami rapping “it’s like a big black hole in my heart, I’m trapped in the dream,” and Sua bringing back the melodic vocals, the vocal trade it initially made it sound like an abrupt transition. But then I listened to the instrumental version of the song and it made sense to have that transition happen between the palm muted power chords to the regularly strummed ones.

On top of that, the benefit of listening to the instrumental version made me notice the second verse features a more groovy bassline than the first one. It’s not just sustained root notes of the palm muted power chords, but a groovy and melodic bassline! So that harmonized rap part that Gahyeon does is extra special to me now, because not only have I not heard many harmonized rap sections from other songs, but it’s also backed by a sweet instrumental modification that I appreciate.

Then we get to the bridge that makes me feel ambivalent. The heavy breakdown part is amazing and so is the clean vocalized part, but the transition between the two feels rushed. The thing with all their songs in general, I still feel like they can benefit from an extra 10-20 second instrumental break where the rock riffs can shine, along with the complex choreo that the girls do.

Even from listening to the instrumental version, the bridge transition feels abrupt. It’d be better if the palm muted riff was repeated with regular strums while the lead guitar did a more melodic solo. Some nasty licks are happening at that part and I was disappointed that it didn’t go anywhere else before the girls start singing again.

With that said, the rest of the song is still pretty epic. The vocalized bridge does rise gradually enough to help deliver the epicness of the final chorus. It’s complete with Siyeon doing some high pitched harmonizing, while the chorus has been modified to include instrumental break beats that emphasize percussive parts of the main vocals.

The outro leaves us with a gentle departure and Dami now saying she’s trapped in a nightmare, instead of a dream. There’s a cool visual for that part in the choreography, but I’ll let you see it for yourself in the dance version below.

The Video:
Well damn, where do I begin? Even if this music video is shot in brighter lighting and more vibrant colours, it still carries the weight of impending doom with it. Aptly so seeing as we finally get to see more about Dreamcatcher’s lives before they met their untimely fate.

It looks like it could have been a deliberate thing seeing as it starts off with Jiu capturing a spider, and Yoohyeon later in the video burning it to death. It has been confirme by the group that the spider was cursed and killing it put them in danger. But that’s quite curious seeing as there’s some strange happenings even before that sequence like Gahyeon being held down in bed by a bunch creepy hands. It’s reminscent of the forest scene from Good Night except it’s not happening out doors, and extra tatoo’d hand comes out to shut her eyes.

So I don’t know, man? Maybe the house was already haunted no matter what and killing that spider was just another way to curse it even further. Also curious is when Siyeon and Sua standing by the forest entrance, and at first they’re in their pyjamas, but later emerge with the hooded cloaks similar to the ones from Good Night.

I’m still racking my brain wondering if they have body doubles that kill them, or if they become those hooded figures themseles. It’s confusing considering  that at the end of the music video, it appears there’s already an old timey photograph of the girls. I guess we’re not supposed to know if it’s them, or just look alikes that have lived in the same house before them.

My theory is that the boarding school is cursed to operate in a strange time loop that involves spiritual dopplegangers that haunt their living duplicates. The dopplegangers either kill or posess the bodies of their victims to continue their bidding, and are in need of physical bodies to inhabit to do so. Otherwise they are just formless ghosts that roam the house.

That’s what I originally thought when Jiu catches another version of herself playing piano in a room before she starts running down the hallway and out of the house. Coupled with the confirmation of the cursed spider playing a big part in it, and not being just a random act of sadism on Yoohyeon’s part, it kind of confused me more than clarified things.

Either way, it’s fun to speculate what’s happening in a medium that presents all this imagery at such a fast pace so it definitely requires multiple viewings to fully understand. And why not? Fly High is an awesome song with an equally awesome music video. So awesome that it left out a lot of the choreography shots as always, so below is the pure dance version.

Hope you enjoyed my reviews! Let me know what your theories are on the narrative, or if you have some more canon info confirmed by Dreamcatcher themselves, I’d totally appreciate it.

Make sure to check out my reviews on Chase Me and Good Night, and if you like these songs, please support the group by purchasing their EP’s and mini-album at:

  1. iTunes
  2. Kpop Mart
  3. Yes Asia

P.S. Physical copies come with beautifull crafted photobooks, a randomized trading card, a poster and of course the CD itself. Either way you go, show your support and get these hard working girls up on the charts so we can more rockin K-Pop tunes from them!

Music Review: Dreamcatcher – Good Night

Welcome to Part 2 of my Dreamcatcher Music Video Reviews series.

They’re the perfect group for me, they’ve got vocals and visuals for days, yadda yadda yadda…

This time, let’s just skip the preamble and jump straight into dissecting the music and its accompanying video!

The Song:
So first off, the music box melody. It’s reminiscent of the kind you’d use to soothe a baby to sleep, except it sounds really creepy and accelerates in speed before a drum hit drops to prepare you for when the full band blasts into your ears. This time around, they wanted to go straight to the rock and man that lead riff just screams anime intro. Plus, it’s the same melody as the music box, so A+ for reusing a melody with a different instrument. It always gives a refreshing feeling to familiarity.

The 1st verse seamlessly quiets down, but maintains the heavy feel with a distorted palm muted riff that’s backed with an acoustic drum kit (keep that in mind for later). I like how it kinda teases you a bit with a full band burst coupled with power vocals for just one bar before returning to the main riff. This time it’s not palm muted and the drums are starting to pick up with headbanging crash hits to prepare you for what’s next.

The pre-chorus kicks in with a bassdrum counting us in, and the closed hi-hat whispering what will soon be in full force with crash symbals in a few seconds. The guitars in this part is like Chase Me, once again doing some sustained single chord strikes per bar and we plummet into the first chorus, and..

It kicks ass!

It involves a vocal trade between Siyeon and Yooyeon, the main and lead vocalists of the group, and it’s amazing how their individual voices alone are enough to carry the chorus. Many K-Pop groups simply stick to using the whole group harmonizing or singing the same melody together to give a sense of power to it, and that’s with much softer instrumentation. The girls in Dreamcatcher are more than capable of individually belting it out to suit the high adrenaline instrumentation.

Now for the 2nd verse, we introduce the rappers Handong and Dami trading lines over an electronic hip-hop drum kit. That main riff from the first verse is back of course, but backed up by a drum kit that sounds more suitable for a rap section. It’s got that deeper, more sustained sounding bass kick that you would hear at a club, and a muted sounding snare hit that’s a cross between a clap and rim shot. Little touches like this give the song a lot of character as each section lends itself well for whichever vocalist happens to be showcasing their talent at their designated parts of the song.

Yooyeon’s belted vocals then welcomes back the full band along with the acoustic drum kit, yanking us back into 2nd pre-chorus and chorus that are pretty much the same as before, but that’s okay because something special happens a bit later anyway. No need to get too technical just yet.

The bridge in a way feels like how a dream does. Or more in particular, a nightmare, wherein it seems to calm down not once, but twice, or maybe even more times before you’re shaken out of your skin. We’re given some gently strummed acoustic guitar chords and softer vocals that gradually pick up in volume, and just when you think Siyeon’s power vocals are leading us back to the heavy stuff, we get a surprising anti-drop to an appregio piano riff. The exasperation at the end of Siyeon’s part also gives me chills as it adds to the effect of trying to escape a nightmare. You can scream as loud as you want, but you’re still trapped.

Then finally, Jiu gives us some cool distorted vocals to make way for Yooyeon’s final delivery of the chorus. Something interesting happens that throws me off every time, and that’s a momentary key shift for one bar. That’s it. Instead of bringing the whole song to that key it only does it once before resuming back to normal, and as much as I love musical complexity to the max most of the time, this isn’t one of those times. I just don’t think a full modulation would work for this song, so kudos to the composers!

The Music Video:
My God, this is where the fun of fan theories begin. So much happens in this music video and since we only have the limitations of quick cutting and visua language to go on, the story might be to comprehend, but I’ll give it a shot.

We come back to the ghost hunter guy having found a study room packed with books that could possibly give him some answers. Meanwhile we see the girls dressed in white night gowns running through an eerie forest as they’re being chased by masked and cloaked figures. This could possibly be a flashback alluding to the night the seven girls were murdered.

As the ghost hunter is going through the room collecting clues, the present day ghost versions of girls become increasingly aware of how close he is to solving the mystery. Maybe he wants to help them, but they just don’t want to? Maybe they’re enraged and are content living on as Nightmares, and if they were to be exorcised, they might cease to exist? Either way, they are watching from the other side of the mirror.

A book with a chain lock on it seems to be pretty important. Important enough that one of the Nightmares snatches the book off the desk to bring it into the mirror world where I think they begin to rip and burn the pages. This is what leads me to believe that a lot about their murder could be discovered, but are refusing to be understood so they can continue their haunt.

What I found pretty cool is how in the mirror world the girls are tearing up books, and as the camera focus shifts back to our realm, the ghost hunter dude is just standing there seeing a bunch of books get ripped up all on their own before he himself gets trapped into the mirror world. The Nightmares are then presumably taking physical form entering our world after trading places with the ghost hunter.

As the music video ends, the cloaked figures are walking around unmasked and they look just like the very same girls they were chasing. This could either mean these girls were chased by their evil dopplegangers, or they over powered the cloaked figures and fought back? I’m not quite sure, but I bet those wooden crosses they fashioned out of branches and hung on trees might hold some answers. If anyone with more knowledge on the whole occult stuff can educate me on the meaning of those, along with anything to do with dreamcatchers in general, I’d greatly appreciate it!

One of the cloaked figures happens to drop that same book with the chain lock on it, and it’s hard to tell if it was deliberate or not. Though it does raise the question; how did that book find its way back to the mansion?

Ah, the mystery thickens and I’ve never been so invested in a music video’s narrative before until now!

Stay tuned tomorrow for my review on the Prequel to all this madness.

What are your thoughts on Dreamcatcher’s music and their music videos?

What are some of your favourite narrative concepts in music?

Are there a set of lyrics, a set of songs, or even an entire album that you love that is dedicated to exploring an overarcing theme or narrative?

Let me know in the comments below!

And just like Chase Me for those who want to see more of the choreography, here’s the dance video for Good Night. That intro sequence with the puppet choreo is awesome.

 

Music Review: Dreamcatcher – Chase Me

Today I’m gonna do something I haven’t done on this site before and that’s review three music videos from one of my favourite artists. It eludes me why I haven’t done a music review, being such a music lover with a ton thoughts and opinions, but I am so fascinated by this group that I can’t contain my excitement.

I’ve been a metalhead most of my life, but have recently taken an interest in Korean pop, and while I do like having the divide between fast, heavy, and aggressive metal vs the often cute, bubbly, and soothing K-Pop, I have been dreaming of a K-Pop group adapting some rock music since they already do explore so many genres of music anyway.

Enter in: Dreamcatcher, which is literally a dream come true for me. They have the melodic catchiness and complex choreography of K-Pop beautifully woven in with the fast paced and distorted guitars of metal. Group “concepts” are a huge deal in concisely categorizing K-Pop groups in terms of their fashion style, overall group personality, and music style, and maybe I’ll write more about that later, but for now let me just gush over how unique Dreamcatcher is when it comes to this element of K-Pop.

The concept is that these seven girls girls are Nightmares that haunt people in their sleep and that there’s a whole mystery behind their murders before they became ghosts. We will now explore that mystery in the music videos made for their title tracks, as well as geek out over the musicality of each song!


The Song:

Up until now, distorted guitars in K-Pop have been mainly used for solos in otherwise softer tracks. They’ve been scarcely used for some rhythm riffs in other songs, but even then the overdrive and bass has not yet been cranked up to the level it’s at in this debut track by Dreamcatcher.

I love how it starts off with a nice soothing piano melody accompanied by their equally soothing, yet haunting vocals. As the pre-chorus kicks in there are some sustained distorted guitar chords, and then bam! A full out rock chorus catches you off guard and those soothing vocals amplify their own power by belting out a catchy melody. It’s mostly a bunch of power chords, but used to great effect since the focus here is the vocals. Then the first chorus ends with a fast and melodic riff laced with some background vocals chanting the title of the track because why not? Remember this riff for later!

Now we get to the 2nd verse, and a huge gripe for me when it comes to any song is when a 2nd verse is too identical to the 1st one. I like to get some variety after all, and if the 2nd verse has a completely different backing riff from the 1st then a song instantly has my attention. However, if it’s to be the same riff, there should be some variances with the accompanying instruments. Maybe the drums are more prominent, or there’s a lead melody layered on top that wasn’t there in the 1st verse.

Chase Me’s solution? Just add rapping when the drums kick back in.

And it’s awesome! Even if I don’t understand the language fully I love Korean rapping. They have a good flow and it’s nice that they rap in key of the song, and of course Dami, the rapper in Dreamcatcher in particular delivers her lines with a swag that says, “if throwing rock into the mix of K-Pop wasn’t enough, then take this!” Also, if I’m hearing correctly, I believe the bassline has more groove to it in the 2nd verse, which refreshes the instrumentation a bit.

Remember that riff I told you to remember? Well it comes back but in palm muted form for the bridge, and rightfully so since this time the vocals are saying much more this time. It’s a pretty sweet deal with how they let the distorted guitar do some slow soloing along with the vocals before softening up for a clean guitar version of the chorus. This, I think, was a very good way to pace the song as it feels like a rollercoaster of emotion. There’s a good balance of rise and fall, especially when the full chorus kicks back in quite percussively with break beats in sync with the vocal rhythm.

Sure, you can copy and paste a chorus three times in a song and call it day, but having putting a new spin on it just before the song ends is a sure fire way to maintain momentum without getting stale.

Overall, Chase Me is a well composed song that strikes a neat balance between calm and chaos.

The Music Video:
A horror themed music video is uncommon for K-Pop, and Chase Me happens to deliver with the creeps in a moderate way. That’s to say it’s not over the top horror with jump scares, gore, and grotesque imagery, rather you have the simple trick of the girls thinning in and out of existence after they take turns messing with the guy investigating the house.

I believe he’s supposed to be a detective/ghost hunter and he’s scouring the house for clues as to what happened to these girls. Why were they murdered and why do their spirits still linger around to haunt whoever dares to enter their home?

It’s a very unique introduction to the group in terms of their sound and style, as well as the over arcing narrative that would be used for their music videos. With just enough creeps and tiny ways to mess with the ghost hunter’s head.

Unfortunately a lot of the cinematic elements interrupt the very very cool choreography for this song. So it’s a tough experience wanting to get the best of both worlds, which it doesn’t. While you do get the best of the horror story, you miss out on a lot of the cool parts of the choreo.

Thankfully there is a separate video where you can watch just the girls dance, and man, I never used to appreciate hip hop dance crews or even dance in general until I got into K-Pop. On top of impressive ways to move with the music, and the ever changing group formations, what sets Dreamcatcher apart is their ability to do all that at break neck speed.

Stay tuned for Part 2: Good Night…

Your Write to Live

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Everybody’s got a story to tell. Whether you’re recounting your real life experiences or engaging your imagination as you day dream about fictional characters, we all connect through stories. Storytelling has been around long before the written word and has been a vehicle to illustrate life lessons.

Back in the Hunter Gatherer days, a hunter may have recounted his run in with a deadly boar and lost a limb, so he would gather everyone around the camp fire and tell his story to make a point: “don’t mess with the boar or you get the horns. Now let’s make long pointy things to stab them with so we don’t have to fight bare handed.”

Yes, that’s a true story. To some degree.

Now I’m pretty sure they didn’t talk like that back in the day, but the lesson and experience is universal: mistakes were made and a committment to improvement was made to mitigate any future problems. That’s all stories really do in the end. They reveal human folly, illustrating just how flawed and fallible we are, but also celebrate our capacity to correct course.

Think of your favourite stories. What do they all have in common?

Whether you’re aware of it or not, they all feature a variety of fuck ups made by the main characters, and you got worried about them. You wanted them to achieve their goals, but something got in the way. You related to how they felt when they didn’t get what they want, thus invoking a sense of panic in you to the point where you couldn’t help but turn the page or watch the next episode to find out if they could escape a dreadful situation and come out on top.

Now think even deeper, further beyond the surface situation your favourite characters were confronted with. Think about what their goal was and what it meant to them, what it meant to those around them in their immediate world, and to the entire world at large. Was there a higher purpose to strive for? A moral principle to be uncovered? Some hidden nugget of human knowledge, new or old, that would benefit the growth humanity?


If that sounds too abstract let me give a few brief examples of how there’s so much more beneath the surface when it comes to popular stories:

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold is fundamentally about grieving the death of a child, as the story goes, but also serves as an allegory for Alice’s survival as a rape victim herself. She may have survived physically, but mentally, a part of herself died and was reborn into Susie Salmon, the novel’s main character.

Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs is fundamentally about human adaptability. How we are much weaker we are compared to other species, but it’s our wit and human invention that allows us to conquer even the most dangerous of beasts and environments.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes is fundamentally about self-ownership and personal choice when it comes to suicide. It may have the basic components of a romance novel; boy meets girl, boy can’t stand girl, but will later need girl. But at it’s core, it’s about the difficulties of living with a disability and the moral complications of suicide.


Now before I go on a long winded bender pointing out the deeper meanings of stories and shamelessly advertising my old BSBS Reviews (for those of you who clicked the links per title), here’s the bottom line:

Storytelling is fundamental to the human experience.

The human experience is fundamental to storytelling.

Writing and telling stories is how we validate our experiences in stylized fashion, emphasizing certain details to illustrate a point and engage each other. Stories invoke empathy, inspire action, and challenge our preconceptions of the world.

Consuming a story is basically putting yourself in a state of voluntary vulnerability in order to experience somebody else’s point of view and learn from their trials and tribulations so you can further improve the use of your own thoughts, words, and actions.

And then on the flipside you can tell your story to provide that experience for others.

It’s Our Write to Live.