Jazz Review: Rhy Dongju-Lions’den II: Arium

Release Date: May 15, 2020
Label: 2020 Dongju Lee

Rhy Dongju is a youth progressive jazz and classical musician who grew up in the Republic of Korea. As a multi-disciplined, growing young man, Dongju exited the military in 2017 and then began to watch his music career blossom. Having released five albums so far, his latest Lions’den II: Arium, is his newest venture, creating an explosion of big-band flavors fused with jazz stylings.

“Ricasso” begins the album like the introduction of a theatrical performance as the curtain draws up, the number is exciting the listener for the start of the show. The tone almost makes the track sound as though it came from a spy movie. It’s a wonderful track to start with as there are no sudden or extreme changes, rather it is a simple, soothing piece.

As track two begins, and you glance over at this particular album artwork, you see a driver’s side car mirror. It's black and white, city street depiction is perfect for this album as it makes you feel like your right in the heart of a city That appears to be the theme of the record, along with a little throwback glance at the 1950’s scenery, painted in the listener’s mind. “Pp,” with a build-up of what might sound like a crescendo of tension, quickly dissipates back into a steady stream of uptempo, staccato strumming. What makes this track so appealing is that there are four different stages within the song; one which circled back to the crescendoing tension again to end out the song.

“Elvis Remember,” simply put, is pure fun. The song bursts with a cheery fanfare that becomes a toe-tapping two-minute tune. It’s appealing to the ear for as quick of a number as it is. Then, we fall into “Revenue” is the first track to have a bit of a somber note to it. The drumbeats offer up a variance of flavor to just having the guitar play through the entirety of the track. “Venue” starts as a dream sequence. It's light, piano keys offer beauty to the piece soon incorporating in the drums and as the guitar sets up to play, allowing it free reign. During the two to three-minute mark, the climax of the song has probably the most interesting exciting release of music throughout the whole album.

When “Syren” comes on it offers a cooler, mellow tone, and though it may be a little more melancholy than that of “Revenue;” it is still sleek with intervals of hill and valley moments particularly at the three-thirty to the four-minute mark. “Aroes Intro” is full-on spooky. It is a minute of elusiveness and piano pleasure. Getting into the main tune of “Aroes” is exciting and simplistic at the same time. There is a fair and even balance between the guitar and piano arrangements within “Aroes” which complement the track to have it be the standout track of the entire album.

Full of downbeats and dark tone “Rachmaninoff Rhapsody, Pt.1” is short but, a severe throw off course of what the listener has become accustomed to hearing through Lions’den II: Arium. As it’s follower, “Rachmaninoff Rhapsody, Pt. 2” comes to play, it offers a variance to its counterpart. While it sounds very dramatic, it gives off a vibe of a very high-speed chase or action-packed scene that might result in a grand finale. Coming to a close, “Arium” is the closing credit everyone can gather and stand and applaud to as victor has won or the hero is now enjoying a moment alone or with their love interest, after having accomplished whatever had needed to be done. It has a smooth and warm tone sure to leave you satisfied and just enough to want to know what the future might have in store for this rising, accomplished artist.

Key tracks include: “Venue,” “Arium,” “Ricasso,” and “Elvis Remember.”

Gregg Keniston- MuzikMan.net Staff
May 30, 2020

Track Listing:
01. Ricasso
02. Pp
03. Elvis Remember
04. Revenue
05. Venue
06. Syren
07. Aroes Intro
08. Aroes
09. Rachmaninoff Rhapsody, Pt. 1
10. Rachmaninoff Rhapsody, Pt. 2
11. Arium

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