Sharp FM 004: Salamanda for Sharp Grotesk Korean


We celebrate the tail end of the Lunar New Year and give a shoutout to our Aquarians with a new Sharp FM release, our fourth, courtesy of 4th-world experimental duo Salamanda. Last month, our first mix of 2023 by S&M reset all expectations with a cold and cinematic march up the mountain and through the parting clouds. Salamanda take the baton and leap from the mountaintop with sounds that fearlessly free fall, float, and fly through pop, ambient, industrial and classical. It's a steady montage of UFOs that float on rather than zoom by, giving the listener time to take their measure. The Seoul-based duo explore new material here and put together something distinct within their own body of work. This dovetails with the qualities of Aquarian air: radical, considered, and surprising.


Within the past few years, Uman Therma (Sala) and Yetsuby (Manda) have carved out a unique niche for themselves. Their steady workmanlike output since 2018 has resulted in an expanding aural world that feels joyous, psychedelic, and whimsical. As DJs, the Korean duo are beloved in the Seoul club scene for their sets, which veer from visceral to heady; as producers, they love to create imagined worlds with their colorful, dreamy and organic palette of sounds. The two describe their music as “leftfield ambient" and as this mix shows, they believe that every sound has its own beauty.

“This is the first mix we ever recorded with music by Korean artists only. Though the idea of making this mix felt challenging at first, we had fun weaving those different kinds of music into an hour long story." The relatively brief journey from the atonal digital burbling of Choi Taehyun's "三清" to "소​년​이​여", an open-hearted 90s R&B throwback, shouldn't work, but these songs play an alchemical game of telephone, and the final message---better felt than understood---becomes something more than its parts. Uman and Yetsuby are characteristically modest in saying, "We think it turned out to be a nice little recording that shows you a glimpse of a broader music scene in Korea."

Speaking of glimpses, we took this opportunity to share a sneak peak of Sharp Grotesk Hangul, which is just one localization in the forthcoming release of Sharp Grotesk Global. We really love seeing the Latin and Hangul versions together. The alternate track list below reminds us of a poster for a film that might have been advertised in the neon cityscape of Blade Runner: 


Alternate track list for Mix 004, highlighting the paired usage of Sharp Grotesk Latin and Hangul.

In conversations with our DJ collaborators, we've gently floated the idea that these mixes exist as halves of a whole. We encourage you to listen back; you'll find that so far, each release is subtly composed this way. In closing, Salamanda hint at this diptych approach without really addressing it: "Some highlights of this mix would be the connection between the old and new, where the traditional sounds meet the modern electronic sound waves, and music from our talented friends that we admire. We hope this mix helps you start your new year fresh and with spirits full of good energy!”


서울 바로크 합주단 (Korean Chamber Orchestra) - 공후
윤이상, 윤인숙 - 기타, 타악기, 목소리를 위한 가곡 (Gagok for Guitar, Percussions and Voice, 1972)
Arexibo - sketch for un_coming image (intro)
황병기 - 가라도
haepaary - Shining Sentences
bela - Relict Knowledge
Mogwaa - Transmission
WETRIX - 내 손을 잡고 내가 보는 것을 봐
Seungmin Cha - 지금은 우리가 (Now, We Are)
Salamanda - Cold Water Manufacture
Salamanda - Drink Wisdom
eobchae - 희망아기의 노래
Salamanda - Kind Regards