Featuring activist/songwriter Robert Park.
In December 2009, anti-genocide activist and songwriter Robert Park entered North Korea illegally to protest genocide and crimes against humanity taking place right now in the North’s prison camps. He was tortured before being released 43 days later and has since struggled with severe post-traumatic stress (PTSD) and suicide.
In July, Park released his first music video for “Indifference,” conceivably among the darkest songs ever written recalling the pathos and fury of early Gun Club and Tonight’s the Night-era Neil Young. The song was in essence the heartbeat and psychological make-up of a revenge killing not dissimilar to Soghomon Tehlirian’s assassination of the former Ottoman Grand Vizier Talaat Pasha, who was the main architect of the Armenian Genocide.
Park’s second music video is to a rough demo of his song “In Love/Ascent.” The recording was done in one-take during a rare and emotional session that was a collaboration with Chris Newman of Napalm Beach and Mike Lastra at Smegma Studios. Newman said of the four raw recordings born out of a 5-hour joint effort, “it is haunting, won’t let me alone … definite magic went down as I hoped.” (For further background on the session, read this piece by Collapse Board contributor Erika Meyer.)
In contrast to the unrelenting assault of “Indifference,” “In Love/Ascent” might be described as one of the more heavyhearted and somber recordings at anytime put to tape. The track, which features Park on guitar and vocals and Newman on bass and drums, is discernibly incomplete. This was in part because the session was aborted prematurely due to Park’s inability at the time to endure the intensity of the sentiments conjured by the music.
The video, compiled and edited by Esther Lee and Erika Meyer, presents never-before-released footage side by side with news clips from the mass media of one of Park’s closest friends Seong Ho Ji, a prominent North Korean defector and rights activist, together with harrowing video and images concerning the North Korean humanitarian emergency.
Park’s affinity for [what is dubiously-termed] post-rock (especially Talk Talk’s final two albums) and modern classical music (especially Steve Reich), quietly perceptible here, is to find full expression when he is finally enabled to enter the studio to record the first Malheur VOL LP. Proceeds from the album will go to Ji and his organization’s humanitarian work in support of North Koreans in crisis. Stay tuned.