PRESS: 25 Great Canadian Albums You Might Have Missed in 2021
Touring was off the table for much of 2021, but releasing albums certainly wasn't. Throughout the year, Canadian artists cranked out outstanding music at an incredible rate — to the point that it was sometimes difficult to keep up with it all.
As we look back on the best of 2021, there are lots of Canadian albums that didn't make our list of the top 50 albums of the year but are still essential listening for anyone catching up on the year's best music. From always-reliable veterans such as CFCF and Fiver to must-hear debuts from the likes of myst milano. and Ouri, here are 25 great Canadian albums you might have missed in 2021.
Korea Town Acid
Though she's known best for making dance floor jams, Metamorphosis shows off Toronto producer Jessica Cho's ability to make her beats swing. Leaning into hip-hop with help from collaborators both local (Toronto singer Desiire) and global (London MC Pianwoo, South Korean rapper PNSB) the album is the perfect showcase for Korea Town Acid's mutable sound. Ian Gormely
THE DIRECTOR'S CUT: KOREA TOWN ACID - METAMORPHOSIS
Korea Town Acid breaks down the ideas, inspirations and collaborations on her genre-defying new album 'Metamorphosis.'
Korea Town Acid (Jessica Cho) is a South Korean-born and Toronto-based musician creating some of the more interesting and genre-melding music today. Born in Seoul, she bridges the divide between cultures with her new album Metamorphosis, working with Toronto based artist DESIIRE, U.K.-based Korean pianist and rapper Pianwooo, Seoul rapper PNSB, L.A beatmaker Dreamdave and New Jersey MC, L.J The Alien.
The album is a genre-defying creation of hip-hop, glitch, jungle, house and dub, blending them together over the full album and even on individual tracks. “Law Of Attraction (삶)“ delivers on slowed dub with her soft voice in the background, while “Eclipse (일)” with PNSB is a silky smooth combination of Korean rap and house music. “Bounce (흥)" picks up the energy with a bouncing rap beat and Pianwooo who adds some light piano and a mix of rapping and deep growls.
We wanted to get a better idea of how an album like Metamorphosis could be built with all of the different genres and cultures being brought together, so we had Cho step into the director’s chair for a new Director’s Cut feature. She breaks down the ideas, collaborations, inspirations and more behind the record in this. Pick up the album on Bandcamp or wherever else you listen to music.
This has a contribution from L.A-based, super tasty beat-maker Dreamdave. He is a mentor and a friend. The "Korea Town Acid" shout out is from the legendary rapper Imani (The Pharcyde). It has a boom bop swag style. "Korea Town Acid, Mouth full of LSD” It is a short and sweet, perfect opening sequence.
2. Curtain Call
This is my cinematic interpretation of 90's boom bop. I was inspired by the Korean mystery drama The Lady in Dignity Season one last episode 20. The heroine dies in the movie and a pop artist paints her life and the painting was called "Curtain Call." There are occasional gunshots, crowd applauses and retro jazz piano.
3. Bloom (feat Desiire)
1a: to produce or yield flowers. b: to support abundant plant life make the desert bloom. 2a(1): to mature into achievement of one's potential. (2): to flourish in youthful beauty, freshness, or excellence. b: to shine out or glow.
I was feeling inspired by the word bloom and this song sounds like swimming in emotions of bloom. Desiire is a very talented R&B soul singer based in Toronto. His beautiful voice has helped my execution further. Thank you.
4. Dazed (feat LJ the Alien)
This is probably one of my favorite songs on the album. I vibe with the mood that it captures. It's a trippy and dazed feeling. I love the tonality of the rapper LJ The Alien from New Jersey blending with the beat. I focused on giving lots of dynamics and space to really feel when the sub bass kicks in.
5. Eclipse (feat. PNSB)
Imagine an infinite late night when you feel really engaged with yourself and you are practicing spiritual engaging experience and dreaming in reality. There is some minor key synth noodling and delicate piano.
PNSB is a very unique rapper from Seoul and shout out to Alice who connected us together. It was one of my favorite tracks when I started the album and was released as a first single.
6. Bounce (feat. Pianwooo)
A dystopian city becomes cyber Seoul. "Red pill, blue pill. Which one would you take?" Pianwooo drops the questions and brings Matrix energy. A UK based Korean rapper, we connected on the web and it became my second single of the album. The beat has the most aggressive energy from the album.
7. This World Is Sick
This song was made after I saw a photo of a California wildfire. I have developed deep compassion for the environment and natural disasters. It has dub techno influences and has minimal chaotic vibes or pull and pushing tension echoing dub experience.
8. Law Of Attraction
I was inspired by dub, reggae and future bass and wanted to keep the uplifting positive energy. I believe in the law of attraction and the song is about manifesting and I had to add chops to my vocals to experiment.
9. Into The Future
Inspired by 2050 AI Fantasy world where I can imagine AI robots flying around. The Sound palette was IDM, Modular synths and intricate broken beat programming. I love the post-production at the end of the track. There is energy and pulse into this track that sounds like a circuit board.
10. There’s No Turning Back
My friend had just played Coco Bryce and his sound inspired me. This is my fresh take on the emotional banger of drum and bass. It has pretty moody chords that are sustaining cohesion with the alternative beat patterns. It is the perfect track to end in climax. The sustain chord is from Juno 60.
New Album from Korea Town Acid is Equal Parts Weird and Wonderful
May 9, 2021
We’re kicking off the week with a recommendation. Korea Town Acid has unleashed her first full-length album. Out now on Canadian label Urbnet, Metamorphosis is equal parts weird and wonderful.
Korea Town Acid – aka Jessica Cho – is wildly creative. An electronic artist at the core, her sound fuses UK future bass, glitch, jungle and alternative hip-hop into creations that go beyond the club.
Born in Seoul, South Korea and based out of Toronto, Jessica’s venture into music began when her mother enrolled her in piano lessons. Today, Jessica experiments with different soundscapes while keeping her classically trained foundations intact. She’ll meld R&B infused dub elements with IDM and K-pop.
As Korea Town Acid, Jessica’s reputation is growing globally. She has DJed and performed live with hardware synths in Seoul, New York, Athens, Berlin, London, and Helsinki. In Canada, Jessica has played at Kazoo Fest, NXNE, MUTEK, Plissken Festival and Toronto Sound Festival. Her 2019 DJ set at Piknic Èlectronic in Montreal was broadcast on Boiler Room and NOW magazine listed Jessica’s 2018 Mahogani Forest EP as one its best albums of the year.
With touring opportunities obliterated by the global pandemic, Jessica has leaned into producing. “To be honest, I am enjoying this stay-home bedroom producer moment right now,” she said.
Korea Town Acid’s new album Metamorphosis is entirely self-produced with Dave Cooley (Tame Impala, J Dilla, M83) on mix and mastering duties. The 10-track album features a range of collaborations from Toronto-based artist DESIIRE, UK-based Korean pianist and rapper Pianwooo, Seoul rapper PNSB, LA beatmaker Dreamdave and New Jersey MC L.J The Alien. Check out atmospheric drum & bass cut There’s No Turning Back from the album.
PRESS: A colourful collection of drum & bass, dub and hip-hop from a key Toronto artist.
In the music video for "Bounce," the lead single from Korea Town Acid, AKA Jess Cho's, debut album, we follow Korean rapper Pianwooo through the back streets of Seoul and a series of slightly tacky CGI renderings of The Matrix. Although full of jump cuts and tough-guy posturing, the video also feels campy, like a lo-fi snapshot of the future as envisaged by angsty teenagers. We start late night, in medias res, with hits of acidic bass and an off-kilter beat careening under vicious bars. Cho and Pianwooo quickly start winking at us—Cho with some light harp chords, Pianwoo with a chorus that gleefully takes cliché to its breaking point, asking us, "Red pill, blue pill. Which one would you take?"
The song captures the interplay of Cho's debut album, Metamorphosis, which positions itself where beauty, menace, theatricality and violence meet. Cho has never sat still in terms of her musical references. The Toronto-based producer burst on the scene with a 2018 mini-LP that was spacious and airy, touching on jazz, broken beat, and deep house. But as someone who has also spent a fair amount of time playing warehouses across and Canada, Cho also knows how to turn out a banger.
Cho provides us with this full spectrum as the album restlessly flits from one genre to the next. She starts with boom-bap swagger and off-the-cuff freestyles courtesy of Los Angeles rapper Imani, and ends with the pummeling drum & bass of "There’s No Turning Back." My two favorite tracks on the record fall somewhere between drum & bass and dub. "Thiis World Is Sick" and "Law Of Attraction" both feature skittering drums that fight for air with the skanking low-end of dub. On “Thiis World Is Sick," the reference is dub techno, but on "Law Of Attraction," Cho's spoken word vocals slip into the slowed slink of dub reggae proper.
"Curtain Call" also incorporates dub techno chords, though Cho sets this against a skeletal hip-hop beat and the occasional caulk of a gun. The effect is equal parts sinister and serene, a balance Cho also strikes on "Eclipse," where vocalist PNSB grows increasingly frantic over some minor key synth noodling and delicate piano. This sense of humour keeps the record light throughout—clock the wafting saxophone paired with Odd Future-esque rap on "Dazed."
Cho is primarily a live performer, and Metamorphosis channels the improvisatory and fleeting feel of a live set. No track clocks in at over four minutes, which means that these songs, especially the instrumental ones, feel like sketches, as if Cho were just starting to map out an idea before the wind blew her in another direction. When listening to the record for the first time, I wrote down "vintage KTA" when "Into The Future" came on. But this record, and Cho's discography more broadly, seems like a rebuttal to that idea. If anything, Cho proves that there is no Korea Town Acid style. Wherever the wind blows, she seems to land on her feet, and in front of her gear.
~~ Henry Ivry ra.co/reviews/33850
Korea Town Acid is a producer who was born in South Korea but is now based in Toronto. She’s been gaining traction in the Toronto DJ and beat scenes over the past few years, releasing her first project, Mahogani Forest, back in 2018 on Cosmic Resonance. Now she makes her debut on URBNET as she takes her next step forward with her first full-length album, Metamorphosis.
Korea Town Acid is best known these days as a deejay and producer, but its also informative to know that before all that she was a classically trained pianist. Not that she’s breaking any sonatas in the middle of the album, but there is a great deal of complex musicality to Metamorphosis that seems to bring these different worlds together. The experience as a deejay is easy to see, as KTA mixes together beats and blends the album in such a way to make the whole listening experience flow perfectly from start to finish. What makes the album really exciting to listen to is the ways in which KTA is able to bring all of these different musical styles together, whether they be EDM, dub, hip hop, trip hop, house, jazz, R&B, or whatever else fits her fancy in the moment. Korea Town Acid does a great job of really picking apart each musical element and understanding how it can fit into the bigger picture and how all these different genres can fit together into a coherent sound. The whole thing comes together beautifully as a bass-driven late night soundtrack that will work perfectly for those sweaty dance floors we just might get to return to this summer. The only minor thing that’s holding the album back is the inclusion of a few guest vocalists on the album. No one does a terrible job and ruins a track, but no one steps up to really elevate a track and push it to the next level, either. What you’re left with is a handful of guest appearances that are fine, maybe a little generic, but not really necessary when KTA is doing so much heavy lifting with her inventive production.
Metamorphosis is a great step forward for Korea Town Acid, and I’m sure it will turn a few heads her way. As exciting as this album is, though, the best part is knowing that she’s only going to build upon this foundation and give us something to look forward to. 8/10
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Korea Town Acid Toggles Between the Gritty and the Avant-Garde on 'Metamorphosis'
8The splendor of Seoul's nightlife is vividly evoked on "Bounce." But this is, thankfully, not the Seoul that some Western listeners might expect to find. The second single from Toronto producer Korea Town Acid's latest album, Metamorphosis, "Bounce" sizzles with reverberating bass, shudders from abrasive key notes, and reels from featured British-Korean rapper Pianwooo's careening bars. Those edgier elements are joltingly contrasted with melodic synth spurts. The music video follows suit with shots of the South Korean capital's shimmering skyline, juxtaposed with cybergothic scenes. "Bounce," like much of Metamorphosis, is far removed from the posher K-Pop or 88Rising trap sweeping the international mainstream. Instead, these 10 tracks beckon the uninitiated into the Asian diaspora's endlessly innovatively underground.
The Seoul-born, Toronto-based Korea Town Acid (born Jessica Cho) achieves this feat by applying her improvisational live music experience to electronica and hip-hop hardware, composing intricately unpredictable soundscapes rather than relying on loops. The singular results prompted Canadian rap mainstay Cadence Weapon to recruit the up-and-comer to build one of her dystopic beats for his upcoming album, Parallel World. Stunning as that behind-the-scenes contribution is, Metamorphosis makes a case for Korea Town Acid's own time in the limelight.
Standout track "Into the Future" sizzles and squeals like a circuit board on the fritz, as hauntingly dissonant drones meld with vocals that don't merely sound altered, but shone through a prism until they flare anew. "There's No Turning Back," meanwhile, sports purring synths and humming keys, along with rapidly rattling percussion, recalling a souped-up Kawasaki weaving through traffic-clotted Tokyo. And then there's the echoing, steel drum-evoking percussion on "This World Is Sick," reverberating at a cool distance, as if on guard from the title's notion.
Yes, her eclectic compositional skills are nothing to scoff at. But Korea Town Acid boasts an equally impressive knack for gripping juxtapositions throughout Metamorphosis. Prime example: the swelling distortion mingling with classical piano sprinkles on "Eclipse," as South Korean rapper PNSB spits with growing aggravation. Better still, however, are the crisp hip-hop drums and sci-fi synths of "Curtain Call" suddenly giving way to breezy retro-jazz piano in the closing quarter.
With her teaming of improvisation and electronica, incorporation of hip-hop into the cutting-edge, and her effortless toggling between the gritty and the avant-garde, Korea Town Acid self-assuredly strides into the spotlight with Metamorphosis. (Urbnet) By Larry Mullin
PRESS: BANDCAMP SHORTLIST
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When the Covid-19 pandemic brought her busy schedule of playing shows to a halt last year, Korea Town Acid embraced the opportunity to make music that was a departure from her improvisational live sets. “I really wanted to foster a sound that’s beyond the club,” says the Seoul-born, Toronto-based producer, whose real name is Jessica Cho. Inspired by a love of ‘90s hip-hop and wanting to take a more hands-on approach to post-production, Metamorphosis is Cho’s most collaborative album to date, and features an international cast of guest MCs and vocalists. They include Los Angeles beatmaker Dreamdave; Toronto R&B singer Desiire; and Korean rappers PNSB and Pianwooo, all of whom fit seamlessly into the producer’s futuristic hybrid of jazz, downtempo, and drum & bass. Cho attributes the record’s spontaneity to being given the time to create at her own pace. “I’m a very moment-to-moment kind of person,” she says. “I feel like all the best music that I’ve made happens really quickly.” -Max Mertens
BIOGRAPHY: Korea Town Acid (Jessica Cho) is wildly creative. She is an electronic artist at her core, but that barely scratches the surface of what her sound encompasses. Citing influences as UK future bass, glitch, jungle, and alternative hip hop, KTA fuses these sounds with concepts of movement and texture, to create multi-faceted works that go beyond the club.
Born in Seoul, South Korea and based out of Toronto, Cho’s venture into music began when her mother enrolled her in piano lessons. These days, Cho experiments with different soundscapes while keeping her classically trained foundations intact. She’s the kind of experimentalist who melds R&B infused elements of dub, with IDM and K-pop, and then finishes of with multi-medium postproduction.
Over the past decade Cho’s signature futuristic delivery, compatible as a DJ set or with live hardware synths, has garnered her global attention. She has showcased in Seoul, New York, Athens, Berlin, London, and Helsinki, as well as throughout Canada. These showcases include notable appearances in 2018 at Kazoo Fest, NXNE, and MUTEK, and in 2019 at the Plissken Festival, Toronto Sound Festival, and Boiler Room. In 2018 Cho’s was included as one of NOW Magazine’s Toronto Musicians to Watch: Electronic Edition, and her Mahogani Forest EP was listed as one of NOW Magazine’s Best Albums of the Year. Despite the lack of touring opportunities that 2020 has brought, Cho has kept active throughout the year. She maintains a monthly online residency at The Lot Radio in New York, and is leaning into the pandemic forced travel restrictions, stating
“To be honest, I am enjoying this stay-home bedroom producer moment right now. I appreciate all the aspects of my experience of touring in EU, US, and Korea in the past, however I don't specifically miss touring at the moment because it is a lot of work and energy, and time on the road”.
Korea Town Acid is set to release her first full-length album
Metamorphosis on April 19, 2021 via URBNET.
Entirely self-produced and mixed, and mastered by Dave Cooley (Tame Impala, J Dilla, M83), the ten-track record features a range of collaborations from Toronto based artist DESIIRE, U.K based Korean pianist and rapper Pianwooo, Seoul rapper PNSB, L.A beatmaker Dreamdave and New Jersey MC, L.J The Alien.
Metamorphosis is a nod to the shift in creative autonomy that KTA experienced from conceptualization to the final product. The record was made in Toronto during the height of the Covid19 pandemic, when access to recording studios and travel was still limited. Still, there was opportunity in having to adapt, which ultimately resulted in some of KTA’S most immersive and true to form work. She explains that “It actually helped me cut the chase and focus. Limitation made it open to other possibilities, like being able to collaborate with artists from all over the world like Seoul, L.A, and Toronto remotely at home”.
Furthermore, the album proved to be a breakthrough in her creative direction, as she states “I was responsible for all the production including composing, recording, editing arrangement and mixing. I used hardware instruments, samples and DAW for post productions.”