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Artist: Seong-Min Brian Baek

Genre(s): Instrumental, Latino, Rock

Seong-Min Brian Baek, through his compositions The Suite Affection and Heart of the Warrior, both of which were released in May 2013, gives us instrumentals that speak louder than words. They explore themes with musical interpretations that are far from generic and ring close to the heart. The tracks feature Seong-Min Brian Baek himself on the ovation and electric guitar, Thomas Cepeda on the nylon guitar, Elin Lee on the keyboard, Ricardo Curto on the grand piano, Jongbin Francis Song on the electric bass and Carlo Ribaux on the drum set.

Ridden with influences that vary from Latin, classical, jazz, rock to mild pop, Korean-born, Vancouver-educated and New York City-based Seong-Min Brian Baek’s compositions and arrangements, without any doubt, reflect raw talent, verve and attention-to-detail!


Track Rating
The Suite Affection ★★★★★
Heart of the Warrior ★★★★☆

1. The Suite Affection

The instrumental “suites” on affection are utterly captivating. It’s easy to get lost in the different elements Seong-Min Brian introduces us to in segments that are separated by interludes of silence; giving us a flash to absorb the latent sentiment.

The opening notes are a mix of strings, bass and piano that create a hopeful and pleasant vibe. By the time the piano dominates, you are absorbed in the melody, taken in by the succession and rhythm of notes. The pace increases from what seems like a comparatively sunny and breezy opening and the plot seems to thicken with every passing minute.

Cut to the next segment which is slower, much more discreet and slinky. The track grows more animated with the flurry of piano notes which progress slowly in intensity, peaking unexpectedly at moments that deviate from the steady rhythm to produce a quiver, a flicker of poignancy that stirs you before retreating to notes that descend in fervor.

Midway, the track advances to a more jazzy and elegant blend of instrumentals; enticing you almost as much, despite their vast difference in comparison with the earlier segments. As the notes feel more fluid,they contrast starkly with the crescendo of drumbeats. There is a shift to a more relaxed strumming, with laid back,intricate piano notes dissolving into the most confident-sounding and solid segment of them all; which is resounding in its impact.

The Suite Affection is carefully arranged, skillfully performed and intricately themed. It’s described as a blend of musical elements of “classical, Latin, jazz and some pop” to fit with the composer’s interpretation of the term Affection. This is definitely worth pondering over as you listen to this wonderfully put-together 8:50 minute long piece that exudes pep, elegance, poignancy and fervor across segments!

2. Heart of the Warrior

Inspired by his guitar idol, Al Di Meola, Heart of Warrior exudes finesse in composition and execution. It is a shorter track compared to The Suite Affection, with a duration of close to six minutes. While it did not resonate with me as much as The Suite Affection – it is still as thorough and inspired in arrangements and performance.

The atmosphere created by the opening background sounds is eerie before it swings into a rhythmic, catchy routine that almost feels like a dance of sorts. The notes are haunting, very melancholic and reflective, capturing beauty in a way only instrumentals can. The beats that follow are steadier, faster, getting more fluid by the minute.

The Latin-rock influences are distinct throughout, featuring arrangements that are combined seamlessly. The electric guitar and keyboard are particularly prominent nearing the finale, where Baek is on fire! The drumming steadies in pace as the track comes to an end. The track feels far from fierce and unyielding as the title would suggest and is instead unexpectedly malleable. It emanates persistence, patience and energy and aside from being toe-tapping catchy, it also means business.

Verdict: Artful compositions that are a treat to the ears! The Suite Affection, in particular, makes a tremendous impact; whether or not you usually listen to instrumental music!

Overall Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆