Mid-Air Thief Becomes the Master of Neo-Psych with Crumbling

Mid-Air Thief Becomes the Master of Neo-Psych with Crumbling

James Madonia '24, Author

Nominated for 2019’s best electronic album at the Korean Music Awards, Mid-Air Thief’s psychedelic pop masterpiece, Crumbling, will have the listener enveloped in layers upon layers of glitchy synthesizer paired with hypnotic acoustic guitar and emotive, provocative vocals. My first listen was magical. I hate to admit it, but “These Chains,” “Crumbling Together,” and “Dirt” brought me to tears. I’ve listened to the whole album countless times since then, and its magic has not been lost on me. With only eight tracks, clocking in at about 45 minutes, Crumbling strikes a good length that’s neither drawn out (like the artist’s previous album, Public Morality), or too short to fully develop (as seen with Mid-Air Thief’s  music released under the pseudonym Shadow Community).

The album opens with “Why?” which is a solid introduction to the world of Crumbling. It starts off with standard acoustic guitar paired with dreamy vocals but suddenly explodes into a chorus dripping with synthesizer magic – then it deconstructs again into a funky, experimental glitch/drum combo. This soon transitions into the best track in the album (tied with the 9-minute-long epic “Crumbling Together” but I’ll get to that later), “These Chains” which showcases phenomenal acoustic guitar and emotive chord progressions. Mid-Air Thief slowly builds up brilliant vocals and tasteful synthesizers until the listener is lost in layer upon layer of masterful instrumentation. 

The centerpiece of the album is a 9-minute-long track “Crumbling Together” in which Mid-Air Thief passionately sings about loss of trust between him and someone he’s close with. Halfway through, the track climaxes and becomes the most emotional, moving song I have ever heard. Ever. Mid-Air Thief delivers an incredible vocal performance as he and the instrumentation become one, his voice melding with the string section as a soft drum marches along. I can’t understand a word of Korean, but I can understand Mid-Air Thief – as with Parannoul the passion behind his voice breaks any language barrier.

If you aren’t already a fan of indie/folk/electronica, Crumbling may not be for you. I, however, am a diehard fan of those genres – when I put on Crumbling it was love at first sight. If you like the albums I’ve written about so far, I highly encourage you to check out this one, too.