You may have already heard of MYK—a Korean-American rapper by the real name of Michael Y. Kim, known for his numerous collaborations with legendary trio Epik High in the past. But you might not know about his indie-rock side project, SALTNPAPER, where the rapper showcases the best of his soft vocals and his skills as a singer-songwriter. MYK now presents to us his brand new, full opus under the SALTNPAPER name, titled More Than Just Circles.
Out since December 22, 2017, it’s hard to tell why the album didn’t get the attention it surely deserves—More Than Just Circles comprises melodies that rarely range beyond the acoustic realm but still manage to show a certain diversity in sound. The real highlight of the album, however, resides in MYK’s soft and calming voice and the wonderfully penned lyrics he sings throughout the tracks. It isn’t hard to get completely lost in a song solely by the sound of MYK’s vocals.
MYK even raps in some songs, and it blends strikingly well with the laid-back vibe of the album, no matter the song; the prologue “GRVS” and the song “Ashes” are great examples of that. “GRVS” only has a haunting piano melody carrying along MYK’s verse, while “Ashes” mixes together hip-hop and indie with delicate vocals throughout the track along with solid rap verses. The interlude-like song “Baby Boy” follows the same formula, with an interesting result emerging from this fusion of genres.
However, the best tracks on More Than Just Circles stick to the rock genre and usually fall under the ballad style. More often than not, they also contain the best lyrics on the album. All these elements work together to create a collection of heartwarming, comforting songs—the kind that can be rare to come across in a pop-dominated music scene. Amongst the best songs of this type on the album, we find “Shine,” a lovely track led by slow guitars and drums with bittersweet lyrics about a parting. “Time” has a similar sound, as it also includes a similar guitar and drums combo, but its lyrics tend towards the feeling of love—or rather, the action of falling in love.
Finally, arguably the best song on More Than Just Circles is “Paean,” a sensible, slow-paced acoustic ballad—the kind that sticks to you because of the emotion poured into both the music and the lyrics. Though the meaning behind the lyrics is simple—a love that is meant to last forever—it’s the way that meaning is conveyed through the poetry of the words that leaves us simply stunned. The guitar and the vocals vary in intensity in tandem as the song goes, strings joining in at certain parts, giving the song an added emotional touch. “Paean” stands out from the very first listen of the album, and it will definitely be a track you’ll want to go back to just to replay time and time again.
More Than Just Circles has many more tracks to offer and therefore even more variety to show, just like the rest of SALTNPAPER’s repertoire. Though some tracks stand out more than others, it’s fair to say that the album is wholesome and never gets boring despite its overall slow rhythm, and that each track has its own unique touch that’ll leave you in love with them all.