The Human Geno Project
Sometime between MTV's conception and decision to play no more than thirty seconds of any given song, the nation recognized New York as a homestead for musical diversity. Mainstream acts are balanced by uncommon musical fare like The Walkmen, Coheed & Cambria, Northern State, and now Eugene Kim's solo [despite appearances from a wealth of Kim's friends] project Geno K.
The Human Geno Project draws its concept, not surprisingly, from the human experience. Geno K's website claims the project "is a multi-disciplinary approach to achieving an understanding of the human makeup, wrapped in 2-4 minute pop packages." A bevy of guests are featured on the album, as four other vocalists, an emcee, another guitarist, and a keyboardist join Kim's voice and guitar. Of the ten tracks, Kim performs solo on only three: "The Taste," "Oblivious," and "Heart Shaped Letter." The rotating cast contributes to the feeling that the album reinvents itself every three or so minutes. Geno K manages to make such reinvention seem both natural and enjoyable, such that the album's schizophrenic nature manages to be a benefit to listeners, not a detriment.
Unfortunately, Kim's voice is not his greatest strength. He can certainly carry a tune, but he voice has a dry character that distracts from the rest of the compositional elements of the Human Geno Project. The production is outstanding whether or not one takes into account that the album is an independent release. Steve Candelin's drumming is enjoyably spartan, refusing to overtake the lyrics of any song. And the lyrics resonate with listeners from all walks of life, as Kim spills his blues, channels the entire grunge movement, and even pulls off an admirable pop star. In "Heart Shaped Letter" Kim presents a stark but appealing vision of hope, singing "it's time to rise from the dead and clear the open path to what's ahead." Throughout the album listeners identify with Kim's statements that life doesn't mean much without some hardship. "Give blood, take love" Kim whispers at one point, summing up one of many of the themes tackled in his lyrics in a brief but loaded phrase.
The star of the album is really Geno K's guitar work. Though John Adair takes over leader guitar duties on a trio of songs [and even steals the show for a moment or two], Kim keeps the disk chug chug chugging along. The bulk of the rhythm on the album is tackled via Kim's diligent plucking, such that at times he masks Candelin's snare. At the same time, the odd shake of a tambourine or a couple of bars on the harmonica stand out as unusual delights. On "Last Call" the harmonica blends almost seamlessly into both Kim's voice and the guitar driven beat, unifying and strengthening the two. But that's just one example of the genius of Kim's composition. In every song the instruments and voices build on each other to create a whole that's greater than the sum of its parts. If that's not a metaphor for life, it's certainly a metaphor for a damn fine album.
Release date: January 2005
Label: Geno K Records
Rating: 7.0 / 10
On the web: http://www.genokmusic.com/
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