In an era of isolation and loneliness, “To See the Next Part of the Dream” is a groundbreaking coming of age story and a must-listen for anyone struggling on their own path of self-discovery.
By Gavin Majeski
No one would blame you for having never heard of the South Korean indie rock artist Parannoul (파란노을). While the anonymous musician only has two albums under his belt, both were released almost exactly one year apart from one another, with “To See the Next Part of the Dream” being released in late February of this year.
While Parannoul takes inspiration from other Korean indie musicians according to the footnotes of the album’s Bandcamp page, calling his latest project an “indie rock” record is a complete fallacy.
“To See the Next Part of the Dream” is an album that cannot be pinned down. It contains a sound that never paints itself into a corner, with influences ranging from scuzzed lo-fi and distorted shoegaze, to mathy post-hardcore, emo, post-rock and noise pop to name the bare minimum.
While such an eclectic branch of styles may appear overwhelming, Parannoul’s ability to perfectly mold each into a masterful, one-of-a-kind sound, is a feat that should not go unnoticed.
Not only is “To See the Next Part of a Dream” an incredible display of instrumental talent, but from a songwriting and lyrical perspective, hits home for many individuals learning to come to terms with living in a new post-COVID world.
The record opens with the aptly named “Beautiful World,” a track that’s sound is juxtaposed by heavily distorted, lo-fi drums and a gorgeous piano backdrop before the listener is greeted to a roaring guitar that comes in around the two-minute mark.
“Beautiful World” is the perfect tone-setter so listeners can get acclimated with the harsh and bittersweet sound of Parannoul, along with being a foreshadowing for the lyrical themes to come.
“Beautiful World” (and the album as a whole) is about a struggling protagonist that is trying to find their purpose in an ever-changing world. This protagonist is stuck in a mundane routine that has slowly enveloped them in a deep depression, causing a constant state of existential dread that is palpable when listening.
The following track, “Excuse,” opens with a cacophonous crash of cymbals that pull back when the vocals kick in. This track establishes the use of synthesizer loops, an instrumental theme that helps separate Parannoul from other contemporary shoegaze bands.
The immediate introduction of these loops early into the song gradually increase in complexity, as the instrumental progresses into a heavy and raw breakdown during the last minute of the track.
The lyrical content delves into how our protagonist sees all of his peers growing up in front of him, yet he still feels stuck in a state of mediocrity, unable to make anything of himself: “Effort is overrated. If there is no result, it’s gone.”
By the end of the song, the protagonist realizes he has been lying to himself. His belief of maturing is false, when in all actuality he is still that little kid with dreams that are far to big for his own good.
“Analog Sentimentalism” opens with a nostalgic sample of the arcade classic, Galaga, which transitions into more dirty guitar chords, some of the best drumming on the record and a warbly synth that compliments well with background vocal samples of indistinct conversations, kids playing and crowds cheering.
Right before the three-minute mark is when the audience is hit with a stunning drum passage. This passage incrementally changes as a spoken word segment reflects on the protagonist’s young love with a significant other, reminiscing about the times they have captured together on film and that one sentimental movie they watched together.
“White Ceiling,” the longest track on the album, is another blend of light electronics over pummeling drums. More real-world samples are heard on this song, as what appear to be bits and pieces from an anime (most likely Evangelion based on the footnotes) are combined with guttural screams.
“White Ceiling” is a sad tale of a stagnating life and how every day of the week feels the same for our protagonist that stares blankly at his white ceiling.
The half-way point of the record, and self-titled track, “To See the Next Part of the Dream,” is a much needed and meticulously placed song that features a soft, acoustic opening, allowing the listener to take a breather from the intense high of the last track.
But just when you think things have slowed down to a lull, the audience gets another intense instrumental slap in the face that wakes them back up, as the song juggles between aggressive and withdrawn at the same time.
This track is by far the most lyrically minimal on the entire project, featuring only the line, “To see the next part of the dream / Let’s walk on the path of a blue cat”
“Age of Fluctuation” takes the opposite approach that the previous song did in relation to its opening. Instead, it goes with an almost metal-esque guitar riff before unexpectedly shifting direction around the one-minute mark, and once again around 3:15 with splashes of beautiful acoustics.
This highlights just how well the project can execute perfect track progression. It feels as if every song on “To See the Next Part of the Dream” never stagnates, and each song constantly moves forward in new and unexpected ways.
The heavy guitars on “Age of Fluctuation” eventually return as the vocals of the song become more strained, representing the emotion distress of our protagonist as he explains how the days are getting late and his life is spiraling out of control.
Even though these strained vocals only help strengthen the dejected lyrical themes of the song, segments here and there, namely the chorus, contain spotty delivery that add up due to the track’s nine-minute runtime.
“Age of Fluctuation” puts into perspective the only flaw of the record: a lack of a strong melodic vocal range.
But due to just how powerful the lyrics, instrumentals and use of vocal aggression is, the album more than greatly makes up for such a minute flaw in the grand scheme of the project.
The follow-up, “Youth Rebellion,” takes a vastly different lyrical approach unlike any other song on the record. The track reads as the most lyrically self-deprecating, but the high-octane energy and danceability instead comes off as a middle finger to anyone telling you how little you can achieve.
The song also features another impressive drum performance, but one that stands out for its impromptu, chaotic Zach Hill style of energy.
Similarly to the immaculate spacing of “To See the Next Part of the Dream,” the following, “Extra Story,” is the shortest song on the record at just under three minutes.
The delivery is almost spoken word, with a slow instrumental that accompanies the accounts of the worsening emotions that come with age. Starting at age 21 and going to 35, we see the different mental states that traverse in odd numbered intervals of two.
“Chicken” is one of the slowest and methodical songs on the record. It features a clear shift in the mentality of our protagonist, which was previously established on “Youth Rebellion.” For the first time, he owns up to his faults and how he was a “chicken” for failing to fulfill a promise to change.
We are then left with a glimmer of hope, as the line, “The end of something is the beginning of something,” fills the mind of each listener.
The tenth and final track on an already perfect record concludes the album’s recent narrative progression and change.
It is a finale that sees the individual we have spent nearly an hour exploring now fully come to terms with what he wants to do with his life. He has decided that running away is no longer an option, and he must face his fears head on, pursing the path that will make him happy.
The track uses a metaphor of wanting to fly to express this search for happiness, an emotion everyone can relate to now more than ever.
“To See the Next Part of the Dream” is a perfectly executed album that contains not only some of the most well composed songs of 2021, but when combined with one another, creates a motivational, relatable and masterpiece of a record.
Favorite Tracks: ALL