The Dark Nadir - Caffeine (카페인) and Wings (날개) by Mot

Spring In Korea

Caffeine (카페인) and Wings (날개) by the indie band Mot (못, which means pond) are unusual beauties. They create a dark world delving into the deepest and remotest corners of your psyche where you’ll only find such grotesque denizens as nihilism, self loathing and destruction, sadomasochism, and their friends. It is a world that do not see the light of day except as a form of art, as in many of Mot’s lyrics. Mot transforms these elements one would normally try to keep under the rug into an elevated art through their heightened sensitivity and genius, creating a strangely attractive world.

카페인


그 자리에 앉아 낙서를 했지
종이 위에 순서 없이 흘린 말들이
네가 되는 것을 보았지
네가 되는 것을 보았지

난 숨을 참아 보다가 눈을 감았다가
또 손목을 짚어도 내 심장은 무심히
카페인을 흘리우고 있었지
카페인을 흘리우고 있었지

늘 깨어 있고만 싶어
모든 중력을 다 거슬러
날 더 괴롭히고 싶어
더 많은 허전함을 내게

하루는 그리 길지도 않고
지루하다 할 것도 없는데
난 더 이상 기다리지도 않는데
난 더 이상 기다리지도 않는데

Caffeine


Sitting in that spot I scribbled graffiti
Watched the jumbled words I spilled on paper
Watched 'em morph into you
Watched 'em morph into you

I tried holding my breath, then closing my eyes
Fingering my wrist, I felt my indifferent heart
It was spewing out caffeine
It was spewing out caffeine

I want to be always awake
Going against all gravities
I want to torment myself more
Throw me deeper in emptiness

When the day isn't all that long
Nor particularly wearisome
When I am not even waiting anymore
When I am not even waiting anymore


날개


우린 떨어질 것을 알면서도
더 높은 곳으로만 날았지
처음 보는 세상은
너무 아름답고 슬펐지

우린 부서질 것을 알면서도
더 높은 곳으로만 날았지
함께 보낸 날들은
너무 행복해서 슬펐지

우린 차가운 바람에
아픈 날개를 서로 숨기고
약속도 다짐도 없이
시간이 멈추기만 바랬어

우린 부서질 것을 알면서도
더 높은 곳으로만 날았지
함께 보낸 날들은
너무 행복해서 슬펐지

우린 서툰 날갯짓에 지친
어깨를 서로 기대고
깨지 않는 꿈 속에서
영원히 꿈꾸기만 바랬어

우린 떨어질 것을 알면서도
더 높은 곳으로만 날았지
처음 보는 세상은
너무 아름답고 슬펐지

Wings


We only flew ever higher
Knowing we'd come crashing down
The world we saw for the first time
So beautiful and sad

We only flew ever higher
Knowing we'd come crumbling down
The days we spent together
Blissful enough to be sad

We hid from each other
Our wings hurting from the icy wind
While hoping for a standstill of time
Making no promise or vow

We only flew ever higher
Knowing we'd come crumbling down
The days we spent together
Blissful enough to be sad

We rested on each other
Our wings tired from poor flapping
Hoping to last forever in the dream
We'd never wake up from

We only flew ever higher
Knowing we'd come crashing down
The world we saw for the first time
So beautiful and sad


eAeon 1

Mot is, or rather was, a two men band that started in earnest in early 2000s performing progressive and jazzy soft rock music. eAeon (이이연) started the band and does most of the songwriting, vocals, and programming. Z EE (지이) joined eAeon in 2001 to be responsible for guitar and other instruments and backing vocals. Z EE since split up with eAeon and turning Mot into a solo act.

Mot is not the only artist doing darkly themed music to be sure. There are other artists that specialize in this noir space writing similar kinds of music. I personally think, however, Mot stands out in terms of creativity and originality. Most of eAeon’s songs brim with new ideas, often presenting a distinctive narrative or uniquely engaging scenes. This is in contrast with the norm, where a lot of artists fall into the trap of doing derivative work. Truly original work is hard to create, so the bulk of the lyrics and music we see tend to be variations of one form or another on existing work. If not lifted outright from someone else’s idea, an artist’s work often is derived from his own previous works without the necessary original elements to make it distinctive. So one finds many artists releasing songs after songs sounding alike.
I believe Mot’s songs have the least of this already-heard-that feel to them. It seems eAeon has a higher standard of artist’s conscience which makes him refrain from putting out a new song unless it offers something really new. This leads to fewer released works obviously, but I respect the artists for upholding their digni this way. What matters is the original, high quality works, not the number of releases. Quality, not quantity, must drive art as far as I’m concerned.

eAeon 2

Caffeine depicts the narrator sinking into the dark, murky realm of his psyche, triggered by his yearning for you in his mind. It creates a compelling scene going from him scribbling graffiti, writhing with agonies in his uncontrollable mind, the caffeine metaphor, to finally sinking into depression and all consuming loathing and ennui. Carried in appropriately gloomy and urgent sounding music, the whole experience brings goose bumps to one, something any art would be proud of.

Wings is beautiful in its own right, reminiscent of a Greek mythology. It is an exquisitely woven short poem singing about a couple who keep flying ever higher farther away from the world. Its sad melody, mythical lyrics, and a mysterious mood all combine to create an unusual, genius work you rarely find in popular music.

Mot is one of the greatest artists I found in the past decade and half. In lyrical beauty, I think Mot’s works are masterpieces seldom if ever matched or surpassed. Of all the one-of-a-kind Korean musicians, Mot clearly stands out in originality in my opinion. Hopefully there will be more coming.

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