After releasing their outstanding debut EP Vacasian in 2017, an EP that merged the musical worlds of contemporary city pop and R&B with hip hop beats, Auckland electro-pop duo Imugi have returned with their highly anticipated second EP Dragonfruit.
Imugi is the project of singer, Korean New Zealander Yery Cho and producer Carl Ruwhiu. The two met at school and have been making music ever since, resulting in them becoming one of the leading figures of the independent music scene.
Their style, although not boxed in completely is a mash of R&B, hip hop and electro-pop, with moody synths, crisp beats, and Cho’s instantly recognisable alluring vocals proving very popular over the last three or so years.
Dragonfruit continues where their debut left off stylistically in this sense, although the songs on here feel more formed, perhaps showing that they have developed their song-writing chops during the intervening years.
Singles "Greensmoke" and "Be Here Soon" set the ball rolling early on ahead of the official release becoming hugely popular on independent radio in the process, and it is fair to say the rest of the EP holds up well with some great moments across the seven tracks.
You could be forgiven for thinking "Somebody Else" was a long, lost city pop classic with its layers of synths and Cho’s dreamy vocals instantly hooking you in, "while y u always acting like a fool?" is a great pop hit featuring some playful rapping from guests Church & AP.
On the flip side, the newer deeper cuts also stand out, especially "Wandering Recluse" and "Reflections" two songs that feature some excellent production work from Ruwhiu. Ruwhiu has quickly developed into a top-notch producer in his own right, with his Toro y Moi-inspired smooth beats often flying under the radar of some of the more well-known local hip hop guns.
It is fair to say that Dragonfruit is the best set of songs Imugi has put out so far and reconfirms the talent they showed early on. Cho and Ruwhiu work so well in partnership and each musician brings their own unique talent and inspiration to the Imugi sound. One would not be complete without the other and it just wouldn’t be Imugi if either one was missing.
Hopefully, an album follows this EP as Imugi have come too far to step off now. What is scary is you feel their best work is still ahead of them despite the quality on display here. This is a duo putting the scene on notice in style in what is definitely one of the best local releases of 2020.
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