Asia Beauty
Review of Ron Korb 2015 CD released - September 2015

This latest CD by multi-instrumentalist Ron Korb brings the music of the West into Asian music, not the other way around. To start with, something needs to be said about the title : Asia Beauty. With such a title, it is hard to avoid thinking of the usual cliché about the worn out exotic and erotic image of Asian women. By removing a single letter, the n at the end of Asian, I think that Korb shows that he does not want to associate with that cliché, although there are few photos in the booklet with beautiful Asian women. My understanding is that these photos are not about showing these women for the preying Western eyes, but to show his personal impressions of Asia, and China in particular, that he has put into music.

The album design, the photos and the printing are of very high quality, which is quite unusual these days, since today’s trend is for musicians to get their music available mainly, if not solely on the Internet.

As for the music, the melodies are beautiful and well thought of. Some have been written based on Chinese melodic patterns, one has a kind of gamelan accompaniment, one has some kind of Irish rhythm, and more. But for me, what distinguishes this CD are not the melodies as such, but the use of numerous Chinese instruments alongside the violin, the piano and other Western instruments. This is of course nothing new, but what stands out in Korb’s music is that he takes full advantage of the timbre of each of these Chinese instruments. He does not use them only to give exotic colors to his music, but they are used for their tone-color quality. For this reason, I think that Korb’s songs are more timbre melodies than melodies as such.

Overall, I think this is the best CD Korb as released so far. I would even say that we can hear a maturity not only about the melodies, but about his arrangements and his use of these Chinese instruments.

© 2015 Bruno Deschênes


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