San Ul Lim aka Sanulrim, is a South Korean power trio combo, the name is the combination of words, San (산, mountain) and Ullim (울림, echo). The band is considered one of the most influential figures in the Korean Rock scene, its musical experiments varied from songs for children to progressive and psychedelic rock.
They broke up after the death of the drummer, Kim Chang-ik (김창익), in 2008 (RIP). Upon its release in 1977, their first LP sold over a half-million copies and paved the way for many further volumes. The songs are full of fuzz guitar, tinny keyboards, unique timbres, and simple production, reminding one of the American garage and pop-psychedelic groups from the ’60s, but with a very special Asian flavor. (!)
Let’s go to our artist:
The three members of San Ul Lim are brothers, they were Kim Chang-wan (김창완, 1954-), Kim Chang-hoon (김창훈, 1956-), and Kim Chang-ik (김창익, 1958-2008).
The band, formed when the three were university students, was initially called Mui and was never meant to be professional. Kim Chang-hoon’s other college band, named Sand Pebbles, won the MBC College K-pop Festival with their song, What Shall I Do?; Mui was initially nominated to win with their song, Please Open the Door but wasn’t qualified because Chang-wan had already graduated from the university.
Gaining confidence, the band looked for a music agency, changing the name into San Ul Lim by their new manager’s demand. At first, they recorded a demo tape, the brothers had already over one hundred songs written before its debut, to then finally arrive at SRB label. Willing to sound like AC/DC heavy guitars, they’ve stumbled into insufficient technological know-how, thus, only depending on psychedelic ad-lib or fuzz guitar, this ironically made their sound unique, founding a longlasting stamp!
Their first album entitled Vol.1 아니벌써 (What, Already?) came out in December 1977, the Lp largely impacted the Korean music scene, becoming both critically and commercially successful, revealing a new type of music which Koreans had never heard before, people were totally absorbed with the psychedelic/hard rock sound.
San Ul Lim’s stellar appearance was significant because they vitalized the Korean popular music scene, which was currently devastated after several musicians were charged and arrested for marijuana possession. The dictatorial government of Park Chung-hee leaded mass boycotts on pop/rock music around 1975. (!)
During 1977-1984, they released more than 10 albums, ending in the middle of the disco boom (a bit late in South Korea) in 1984. With the K-pop retrospective revival during the ’90s, all of their Lp’s were reissued and a tribute album was released.
They performed in Seoul on July 5th, 2007 for their 30th anniversary and planned to release a vol. 14 album within the same year, unfortunately, on January 29, 2008, drummer Kim Chang-ik was killed in a work-related accident in Vancouver, Canada. Ever since, Kim Chang-wan announced the end of the band, though he recently reformed it and occasionally plays with another formation. He also has been actively performing as a musician, painter, actor, writer, and broadcast celebrity!
Let’s go to our album:
Today we’ve got a very special album, of an extremely important band! Still unknown to large Western audiences, (still expecting an official re-release of their albums), but thanks to the blogosphere work from Gold Korea Vinyl (for instance), Vol. 1 and 2 can be easily heard on youtube, soundcloud, etc. Here, let’s go a little further.
Together with Vol. 3, this Vol. 5 are my favorite, even if the compositions seem a bit naive in terms of harmony and arrangements, this power trio REALLY understands about colors and effects, maximizing the (holy) punk aesthetic of less is more.
There’s a previously unseen disco offshoot here, San Ul Lim’s vision and concept of it are quite unique, embracing multiple passages and genres. Lastly, Arirang’s cool series of documentaries, are available with legends in English, scrutinizing every detail of the rock development in the country, with an exclusive chapter on the band, its history, and idol status. Needless to say, more, check it out and ການເດີນທາງທີ່ດີ!
The ‘IM’ highlights are 무녀도 (No Women Island) and 백자 (White Porcelain).
A1 한낮의 모래시계 (An Hourglass in the Afternoon)
A2 오솔길 (A Trail)
A3 봄 (The Spring)
A4 포도밭으로 가요 (Let’s Go to a Vineyard)
A5 무녀도 (No Women Island)
B1 이렇게 갑자기 (All of a Sudden)
B2 연 띄워라 (Fly a Kite)
B3 왜가 (Why, Leave)
B4 백자 (White Porcelain)
Chang Wan Kim (김창완): guitar, keyboards, vocals
Chang Hoon Kim (김창훈): bass
Chang Ik Kim (김창익): drums
Released on September 1979