The talented vocalist from BtoB finally made his solo debut with the mini-album Rendez-Vous. Moving on from the BtoB tracks he has participated in creating, Hyunsik also wrote and composed each track of this album. In line with the promotions surrounding his solo debut, Rendez-Vous has an over-arching theme centered around the moon, stars and the galaxy. This is brought out both lyrically and musically, making for a very focused album.
This theme is perfectly embodied in the first two tracks of the album, “Rendez-Vous” and “Docking”, with each capturing different aspects of the galaxy. As the name suggests, “Rendez-Vous” speaks of the long journey two people take to get to each other, using the metaphor of planets gravitating toward each other. While it carries a tone of wistfulness and sadness, it is ultimately hopeful and looks forward to that final meeting. Resonance is used effectively in the mixing of this track, and the sustaining of the synth pads on top of the regular instruments gives the whole song a lot of space. It evokes the image of a vast galaxy, even as Hyunsik’s deep and emotional voice grounds the track.
In contrast, the instrumental riff that characterises “Docking” is a bouncy, mysterious one that sounds as if it could belong in a sci-fi movie. A heavier emphasis is placed on stars in this track, which is appropriate considering its repeated refrain of “flying to the stars”. It is relatively low in intensity, in terms of its laidback beat, and this creates the vibes of someone floating or coasting along the galaxy.
While it is a catchy song overall, the highlight of it comes in its instrumental section toward the end of the song. Beginning with simple arpeggio progressions, the track is layered bit by bit before finally reaching a climax in its last chorus. The build-up that happens softly throughout this section in the background really succeeds in creating suspense and anticipation, so it is unsatisfying that the song ends up returning to its original, laidback beat. The variety of the sounds used here really deserve a mention however it almost sounds like the music composer tested all the “galaxy” sounds he could use and somehow managed to capture them all into one cohesive track.
Continuing with the trend, “Moonlight” also makes good use of synth sounds to create a galactic feel. Where it goes wrong is in the mixing of the vocals with the instrumentals. The richness of Hyunsik’s voice is downplayed in this track and feels slightly overpowered by the other sounds featured here. “Moonlight” is the closest to a dance track out of this mini-album and has an extremely pleasant chorus featuring Hyunsik’s glorious high ad-libs. It begins pretty quietly, which conveys a bit of the solitude and loneliness that the protagonist of this song is going through. That all changes with the arrival of his “moonlight” in the chorus which is when this track really comes alive.
“Moonlight” feels familiar in a way that “Black” certainly does not. The grungy rock track is an unexpected musical choice both for Hyunsik as an artist and for this album. Beyond the synth effects used in its intro, there is little semblance between “Black” and the other tracks.
Gone is Hyunsik’s gentle and warm voice, he goes full-on aggressive here. The descending chord progression in the electric guitar riffs is reflective of the angst of the lyrics, along with the fierce drums backing the track. That desire for an escape, the desperate need for space and the hopelessness accompanying the realisation that “there’s nowhere I can go” is well conveyed through each element of the song. In particular, Hyunsik’s versatility shows here, breaking that conventional image of him as a balladeer. “Black” appears just as the galactic theme starts to get worn out in the album and is a nice dose of darkness to balance out the other sentimental tracks.
Wrapping up the album is “Dear Love”, which is also the title track for Rendez-Vous. The placing of this song at the end is an interesting choice, given that most albums have their title tracks as the first or second song on the tracklist. It makes sense here, however, given that “Dear Love” is the most traditional ballad of the album and is the least musically interesting of the lot. With simple piano-string instrumentation, the spotlight is placed solely on Hyunsik’s voice, and it is here that he shows his power as BtoB’s lead vocalist. His sincere emotions shine through each note he sings and he successfully conveys the comforting story of the song.
Far across the vast universe
No matter where we are in the world
We will see and feel love faster than the light
While the song does not keep to the galactic theme musically, it certainly does in terms of its lyrics. It refers back to the vastness of the universe, and the distance between two lovers, as does “Rendez-Vous”, but this time it highlights the strength of love in overcoming this distance. The ad-libs Hyunsik belts in the final chorus really display his impressive range and is a beautiful expression of his powerful vocal abilities.
Rendez-Vous is a great display of Hyunsik’s musical ability, both as a composer and as a singer. Even as all the tracks are great compositions, the clear focus placed on the theme of the galaxy throughout the album and even in the music video helps to tie everything together, making for a more meaningful experience for listeners.
(Youtube. Images via Cube Entertainment.)