Monday, 6 April 2020

A Ritual Of Nightmares Continues in Dreamcatcher's 1st Album 'Dystopia: The Tree of Language' (Album Review)

*Where there is room to make mistakes, there is also room to improve. If you see any mistakes riddled throughout this post, please be sure to call me out on them. I am human, therefore imperfect, however I am always wanting to improve my spelling and more. Thank you for your help and understanding.

In which Chiima finally finishes her review about Dreamcatcher's Dystopian album, whilst also experiencing the odd changes within her own world thanks to a certain pandemic...

With an abundance of new songs to experience, Dreamcatcher's latest album Dystopia: The Tree of Language explores the depths of their nightmares with a variety of sounds, dystopian themes and epic vocals.

And yes, it's as incredible as it sounds. Or maybe I'm just biased. Who knows?

Acting as the first release of 2020 for the group, this is the groups long-awaited first feature-length album filled with new tracks, as well as a handful of previous releases. Impressive in its sound and srtyle, atmospheric and appropriately eerie when it needs to be, Dystopia: The Tree of Language is a great addition to Dreamcatcher's discography, and a must-hear for anyone who cares to give it a try.

And before I give any more away, I am finally going to sit my butt down and write out this review, which has been collecting dust since February. With no excuses left to give - because it's clear the real world is as fragile as Dreamcatcher's nightmare world - let's finally get into this review and type my thoughts on the songs, the album and everything that pleases or annoys me about it.

The world isn't ending, but when it feels like things are falling apart we should listen to some music and escape into another universe that parallels our own. Are you ready to fall into this world of dreams and music?

(I honestly never realised that the different editions of the album spelled out EVIL until I began fleshing out this post, lol)

Dystopia: The Tree of Language

Release Date: 18th February, 2020
Price: Varies online per retailer

Editions: 4 (E ver. / V ver. / I ver. / L ver.)

Track List:

1. Intro
2. Scream
3. Tension
4. Red Sun
5. Black Or White
6. Jazz Bar
8. In The Frozen
9. Daybreak (새벽)
10. Full Moon
11. Over The Sky (하늘을 넘어)
12. Outro
13. Scream (instrumental)
14. Paradise (Siyeon solo track / Special track)

Dystopia: The Tree of Language

- Album Review -

1. Intro

Traditional intro's aren't always present on albums these days, but when they do appear I am always pleasantly surprised. An introduction to the album, Intro prepares you for the dystopian theme of the album, as well as the suspenseful tone that rings throughout.

Standing at one minute and nineteen seconds long, Intro does a fine job in setting the overall tone for Dystopia: The Tree of Language. Atmospheric and elegant, the opening instrumental is sure to intrigue all listeners thanks to the haunting beauty it holds.

It's time to fall into Dreamcatcher's latest nightmare. Are you ready to be overwhelmed by music?

2. Scream

Riddled with suspense, Scream is indisputably the best track on this album thanks to its dramatic sound, incredibly paced vocals and almost horror-like effects riddled throughout. It makes sense that this is the lead track, and I can't commend the composers and lyricists enough for creating such dark, enigmatic piece.

Part of why Scream is so brilliant though is also down to the choices made to include operatic vocals, various effects such as howling or high pitched screams and deeper vocals that riddle the instrumental. The vocal arrangement is especially intriguing thanks to the use of enunciation and pacing, ultimately giving the listener a varied sound performance that at first feels like a soothing lullaby before ultimately throwing you into a chaotic frenzy of nightmarish chants and operatic fury.

It's a ritual, one that starts off sweet and enticing in order to draw you in, only to become a menacing wave of chaos as you are slowly dragged into the depths of their nightmare world.

The accompanying music video is a sight to behold, encompassing the beauty and darkness the sound creates. Scream is a distorted fairy tale in image, with most of its sequences matching the heavier tones and pacing of the song in both its use of effects and its editing style. The pacing works in line with track itself, whilst the dance shot, solo sequences, colours, lighting various other effects further enhance the vivid and menacing world that the song initially set out to create.

It's an expressive, visually stimulating piece that is beautifully chaotic, and though it can feel quiet at times thanks to the emptiness of the space during solo shots, it is still active and loud because of all that goes on within the story of the video. It would be an understatement to say that Scream is visually pleasing, because it feels like there is more to it than just pretty imagery. It is well directed, powerful in all it shows and a gorgeous display of Dreamcatcher's world of nightmares. Scream is its own ritual of chaos, one that beautifully displays everything the song can not do on its own.

As a song, Scream is an intoxicating piece that will draw you in with an aim to only drag you further into the depths of its darkness. It is truly an enchanting piece thanks to its use of vocals, effects and operatic chants, and I can not help but be addicted to this beautifully chaotic song. It is certainly worth a listen and a watch, even for those who are not keen fans of Dreamcatcher and their music.

In a Nutshell: Scream is a ritual of chaos, a song that will draw you in with sweet vocals and entice you with its frenzied instrumental and use of operatic frenzy. Prepare yourselves to be dragged into the depths of a nightmarish world, one that you are unlikely to escape from any time soon.

3. Tension

Littered with remnants of Good Night (2017) and reminiscent of Dreamcatcher's older sound, Tension is a fairly commendable follow-up to Scream despite not being as strong in sound, or original in its tone. Regardless, it is worth noting that this is a pleasing song and incredibly catchy.

With its fast-paced sound and use of the piano during the bridge, I can't help but enjoy Tension and its surge of energy that courses throughout. It's invigorating, and though I initially felt surprised by how similar it sounded to Good Night at certain points, I have learned that this is more charming than off-putting. The ties between the two songs are fascinating, and only serve to make me want to think of this in a similar vein to musical tracks: It's one part of a whole story, and each song of within that story will have a recurring sound or theme to tie it all together. For me, that's what Tension does - it ties together Dreamcatcher's first world (or chapter) with the new world that they are a part of now.

I am most likely wrong on this theory of mine, but that's what it is at the end of the day - a theory of my own and nothing more. Still, it's fun to think that both of these songs tie these worlds together, even if the world that the lyrics are set in are completely different.

Tension is, in short, a very fun song. I enjoy everything about it, from its energy to the vocals and how much of a rush the song gives me. It certainly doesn't have the depth of Scream nor the creativity, but it's a nice call-back to some of their older songs, Good Night specifically. It's nostalgic fodder if anything, and I love that about it. I'm so happy that I can reminisce about Dreamcatcher's earlier releases with this song.

In a Nutshell: Tension acts as a nostalgic release within this album, and though it may not be their most original track, the fast pace, catchy tone and fun sound will certainly keep you entertained for a while.

4. Red Sun

Red Sun opens with what I like to consider 'Carnival' music. A familiar sound that would have comforted you as a child, Red Sun is pleasantly unsettling thanks to its melody that is reminiscent of a music boxes twinkling tones, creating an almost lonely sound. Paired with vocal effects embedded into the instrumental that sound similar to that of a child laughing or speaking - or perhaps a creepy doll - Red Sun is the perfect track to accompany their ever-expanding nightmare world.

It also screams horror trope vibes, and I am honestly all for that atmosphere in this album.

The instrumental itself seems fairly simple in sound, but it is that simplicity that makes Red Sun so unnerving as a song. That lonely sound of the music box echoing throughout and the child-like vibe it creates is inherently creepy, and ultimately allows Red Sun to feel as discomforting as you would expect.

In many ways it feels like Red Sun would fit perfectly in a Gothic horror film. Unsettling, eerie and child-like, this track is simple in sound but effective in the atmosphere it creates. An intriguing track, Red Sun's own lack of depth and complexity is its strength, ultimately creating a rather disturbing, otherworldly feel to the song.

It's a song as old as time, one that has been used throughout history to both lull a child to sleep and to scare those who enjoy a classic horror tale, and it's still an effective music technique even today. Just be sure not to lock yourself in an attic whilst this tune is playing in the background.

In a Nutshell: Where Scream is complex and intriguing, Red Sun is a simple and familiar tune that will haunt your dreams.

5. Black Or White

Though it isn't my favourite track from Dystopia: The Tree of Language, I will admit that Black Or White is the most memorable song from this entire track list. It is the song that I will think of when I wake up, and the one I remember most clearly out of all 14 tracks here. It's a catchy, fun track, and I really enjoy how cool and energetic the beat is.

With all that said, I do have my own minor issues with the song. Black Or White is far from a perfect track - actually, you could say that about all of them, depending on your individual music tastes - and though I do have a lot of fun listening to it, I find the rap parts especially rather jarring and unattractive compared to the rest of the song. I'm not particularly keen on the distorted Black Or White's that appear after the bridge, either, and find them to be especially displeasing to my ears.

Still, what appeals to me will be different from what appeals to you as a listener, meaning that what I feel are shortcomings for the song will instead play as strengths for you. And hey, this doesn't mean I hate the song - I really don't - but I acknowledge that it isn't my favourite, and I simply wanted to express why. It has certain points that just make it a huge turnoff for me music wise, but I still find some delight when listening to it. After all, it is hella catchy.

I am half-and-half on this song. On the one hand, I enjoy the catchy beat and energy of this song, but on the other I feel put off by certain aspects of it, such as the rap portion. Still, I can't help but bob my head along to it when it does play, and have even caught myself lipsynching to it more than I would like to admit.

Black Or White stands out in both a good and a bad way for me as a listener, but its the songs overall uniqueness and ability to stay in my head that draws me towards it. That, and it's stupidly catchy.

In a Nutshell: Catchy, fun and an entertaining listen, Black Or White will get stuck in your head and have you lipsynching along before you know.

6. Jazz Bar

Outside of listening to the song on shuffle or repeat, I honestly can't remember what Jazz Bar sounds like until I press play. Not to take away its credibility as a track, but it simply isn't my style. At least not this song.

That said, I do think this is a very pleasant track to listen to, delivering a much-needed break from the recurring theme of darkness and chaotic energy that the other songs have created up until this point in the album. It's an incredibly soothing track, with Jazz Bar emanating the very atmosphere you would expect from a song with this name: Warm, comforting and oozing both sophistication and late night relaxation.

But - and it's a big but - despite how relaxing and nice it sounds, Jazz Bar ultimately disrupts the current flow of the album with its inclusion. Because of this, the dark and mysterious atmosphere that has been built up is shattered, and the listener is removed from the 'story' of the release. It's rather jarring, going from such a cool and unique track like Black Or White to this, and I do think that's one of the reasons for why I don't remember Jazz Bar that well.

This may be less of an issue for other listeners, but for me it's a bit of a problem when it comes to how the rest of the album flowed before this song started playing. Still, I can't deny that it's both soothing and a nice little break from the album, but I also wish it still contained the same style and energy that the other songs followed.

In a Nutshell: Disrupting the flow of the album, Jazz Bar sets out to soothe you with its warming instrumental and dulcet vocals.


Bringing back the tension made by previous tracks, SAHARA thankfully matches the pace and tone that the album initially set out to create, and is once again a catchy and rather appealing track, one hat will probably get stuck in your head after a few listens.

Though it might not be the strongest or even most memorable song on the track list, I do think that SAHARA evokes both power and ambition with its sound. Its loud, creates a sense of urgency in both its instrumental and the vocals, and is honestly a lot of fun to listen to on repeat. I am fairly sure that this is one of my favourite tracks from this entire album, simply because it's such a good, entertaining track to listen to.

The song itself feels serious and perhaps a little exotic, but the accompanying Special Clip is the exact opposite of what the sound portrays. Extremely silly with a homemade feel and riddled with personality, SAHARA's special clip is everything you wouldn't expect for a song like this. Sure, some elements of the video are borrowed from their professional PV's - the corridor and mirror scene, for instance - but the rest is there for comedic effect. It's incredibly jarring in a fun way, offering us something different and unexpected.

It is unique to say the least, but it's a fun addition to this albums accompanying videos that I didn't expect to see.

SAHARA is a serious, exotic track that blends in with the rest of the album, sans Jazz Bar, perfectly. It's atmospheric, beautiful and mysterious in its own way, and the vocals are simply astounding. I especially love how breathy the 'SA. HA. RA' is sung here, and can't help but find this song extremely appealing. It's gorgeous, and despite not matching the creepiness of Red Sun or the strength of both Scream and Black Or White, I really do think highly of this song and all it creates sound-wise. I adore it.

In a Nutshell: Beautiful in sound, ambitious in execution, SAHARA is an appealing track that draws you back into Dreamcatcher's atmospheric world thanks to its stunning instrumental and somewhat mysterious tone.

8. In The Frozen

Where SAHARA's name evokes an image of warmth and desert plains, In The Frozen creates the opposite effect in both its name and sound. With a distant and chilly tone, it is undeniable how empty this track sounds when compared to the previous songs we have heard up until this point.

And no, this isn't a bad thing. Well, it isn't to me at least.

With a heavy focus on echoing vocals and a quieter instrumental during the verse, In The Frozen takes you into a different world filled with jarring sounds, great editing and a shift towards the trance genre as the music ascends. In many ways it is an oddly satisfying piece, on that I return to regularly and enjoy a great deal, though I could see why somebody may not take to it as quickly as I did. I guess it's because In The Frozen is a lot more spread out when it comes to the vocals, making it feel a lot less full and more spread out, however I find this to be one of its saving graces - the emptiness of the song lyrically only enhances how cold and distant the song is supposed to be, creating an oddly beautiful world that I enjoy falling into whenever I listen to it.

I may also take to this song a little more because I already have a genuine love for club and trance music, and something like In The Frozen makes me feel nostalgic for my childhood. With that said, I do think that the song is unique in its own way by bringing together an eerie, almost fairy-tale like quality to the track during the opening verse, before slowly rising into the club-trance remix to enhance the urgency of the song and its lyrics.

In The Frozen is, to put it bluntly, eerily beautiful. Though it isn't as impactful as SAHARA, it is an impressive counterpart to the song that came before it, and I enjoy listening to it a great deal. There is certain amount of elegance here, and though it may not be to everyone's taste, I have really taken to In The Frozen. There are a number of reasons for this, including my love of club and trance music in general, but I will say that I can't fault this song. I simply enjoy it, and find the lonely sound and echoing vocals extremely beautiful in an odd way.

With an almost Dystopian sound, In The Frozen creates this beautifully chilling world. It's cold and lacking, a little eerie and exceptionally lonely. Sure, it might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I appreciate what this song does and what it creates, and I think it's a wonderful addition to the track list, fitting in with theme of the album well. I am happy it was included, and I hope to hear more music like this from the group in the future.

In a Nutshell: The opposite of SAHARA, Dreamcatcher's 8th track is a lonely track that makes use of the trance genre to create a beautiful, cold world for everyone to enjoy. Though it is lyrically lacking, it is still a great track, one that sounds a little more dystopian and cold than previous tracks.

9. Daybreak

When it comes to Daybreak, I can't help but put it into the same category as Jazz Bar. It's not a song I think about often, and I typically forget about it until it comes up on my playlist. I honestly find it quite boring, though it is pretty in sound.

Now there is a backhanded compliment.

Though I do consider Daybreak a pretty sounding song, I really don't have an opinion on it aside from that the chorus especially is a nice, soothing listen, and that the vocals are absolutely breathtaking here. The members sound really good, however once the song ends I simply forget it exists. I could easily do without it on my playlist.

Similar to Jazz Bar, I feel like Daybreak has no place in this album. It's not as fitting as other songs before it, and it only serves to break up the overall feel and image of the album for me as a listener. It adds nothing aside from some top-tier vocals, and just doesn't do anything for me as a fan of the group. I think that Daybreak will be a wonderful live track, however, and would like to see the members perform it in front of an audience. Aside from that though, it's a little jarring against all of the other songs on here, ultimately breaking the flow of the album's theme and sound.

In a Nutshell: Daybreak is one of the more disappointing tracks on this album, and though it is pretty in sound, it's easily forgettable and lacks the impact the rest of the album has produced up until now.

10. Full Moon

Despite begin released back in 2018, Full Moon makes a return appearance here, and I couldn't be happier. This is one of my favourite songs from Dreamcatcher thanks to its sound, energy and the impact it delivers, as well as the nostalgia it brings me. It's a really fun track, one that I am happy to revisit again and again.

I do think that Full Moon doesn't exactly fit with the theme of the album, however its energy does. I'm also extremely biased when it comes to this song, but let's be real: it's pretty much padding for the end of the album, and is only here to give us a little more music wise. I appreciate it being here - of course I do - but I won't deny that this is literally a filler track to make this a full album.

I recall there being a short music video to promote this song, though I doubt it ever came out in full (something I am still bitter about). Instead, we have a dance shot which is still pretty fun to watch, with some nice editing and camera work to enhance the quality of the video. The sepia tone used is also a nice shot, creating a slightly disoriented look to the video, which is pretty fitting for the group that was themed around dreams and nightmares.

Full Moon is a good song, one that is a nice callback to the groups beginning. It's beautiful in sound and simply nostalgic, and I'm happy that it was included in the album. I love this song a great deal, so listening to it over and over again on the album delights me.

In A Nutshell: Full Moon is the start of the padding this album offers to bulk the album up, but it's a welcome addition thanks to its addictive and nostalgic sound. It's pure Dreamcatcher, and it's incredible. Enjoy the energy and memories, everyone.

11. Over The Sky

Another track to fill in the gaps, Over The Sky is a song that I hadn't heard prior to the release of Dystopia, so it came as a welcome surprise to me when I found out that the track was, in fact, a stand-alone song from 2019. Of course, I happen to really like this track, because I'm a sucker for the pretty songs. I am also not that mad that this one breaks up the overall tone of the rest of the album, but that's only because I like it and I am a biased trainwreck.

Over The Sky has a positive sound that is endearing, hopeful and bright, traits that I don't typically associate with Dreamcatcher. It's these very traits that create a refreshing image for the group however, allowing me to appreciate the diversity they have in their sound and style. Their cool and dark concept is great, but something like this every once in a while is interesting to see and hear from them.

It's cute, and I honestly appreciate how unique this song feels against every other Dreamcatcher song out there, despite the fact that Over The Sky may or may not be a pretty generic sound and style.

Over The Sky also has a dance video attached to it, and it's pretty fitting in terms of how bright and open the landscape looks and feels. It's nice to see the members performing outside in the open, with a blue sky behind them. It looks warm, though the bare trees say otherwise, and the editing is fast and pretty sharp, matching the songs pace pretty well whilst still giving us member screen time and showcasing the dance.

It's basically a pretty basic PV, however I do appreciate the location, camera work and edits.

The song is great, and though it may not be the strongest on the album or even the most fitting, I do enjoy it a great deal. It's a fun, bright song, and I think it's absolutely beautiful.

In A Nutshell: Though it doesn't fit the dark and dystopian concept of the rest of the album, Over The Sky is a very pretty, bright song that is a refreshing addition to this album.

12. Outro

Compared to the intro of Dystopia, there is a lack of impact and energy in Outro. Of course, I don't think I should have expected anything less - this is the end of album, after all. Appropriately lonely - as well as a little distressing, because of the damn high-pitched buzzing that it includes - Outro is a fairly adequate end to what has been a pretty solid album.

It's pretty in sound (with the added annoyance of the buzzing), and I think it's a nice way to close Dystopia: The Tree of Language.

But, yeah... it's an outro. There isn't much else I can say.

13. Scream (instrumental)

I never review instrumentals on my blog, only because I feel there is no need. With that said, I genuinely enjoy listening to instrumentals as a means to understand a song more, and to also gain a personal understanding of whether or not the song is only good because of the vocals, or if a a song was made with both the sound and the vocals in mind. For Scream, it's pretty clear to me that both the song itself and the vocals were made to balance each other out.

It's a great song both with and without the vocals, and just hearing how full and theatrical, enigmatic and powerful it is just as an instrumental is incredible. It's powerfully dramatic, and I think that this song could easily serve in a film as background music for a crucial scene in a TV show or film.

Simply put, even without the vocals this is a great track. It continues to sound moving and chaotic even without the vocals attached, and it stands well on its own. I say give this a listen, because it may surprise you just how well the instrumental holds up without the vocals. It surprised me, and I'm glad that I enjoy it just as much as the normal version.

In A Nutshell:
 Scream (instrumental) holds up even without the added vocals, and continues to be a dramatic piece that is intoxicating and impressive.

14. Paradise

The final track included on the album, Paradise basically defies expectations of the album being done and gives us one last song. Performed by Siyeon, this is another previously released digital track that creates even more padding, and whilst I am not at all disappointed by the quality or sound of the song, I am a little annoyed by the fact that Paradise took away the true ending of the album.

That's a personal issue though, and I'll let it go at some point (ha).

With all of that said and done, I do think that Paradise is pretty damn fitting for the album. It has a similar sound, the energy is great here, and a subtle amount of loneliness is evident in the track at a certain point. It's a powerful song as well, and Siyeon is an exceptional vocalist who absolutely wowed me throughout the duration of the song. She sounds incredible.

Still, I do think that putting Paradise at the end is a bit weird. It feels like it was added as an afterthought, though I'm sure the idea for placing it at the very end has to do with how impactful Paradise would sound after listening to two instrumentals. It really doesn't feel like that though, and maybe I'm being picky and negative, but it really does feel like Paradise was included in the track-list last minute to pad the album out a little more. The placement is just off-putting, and makes the song feel extremely out of place and separate from the rest of the album.

In terms of the accompanying video for Paradise, it's pretty basic for Dreamcatcher, though pretty to look at. A long solo shot with different angles, this isn't the most exciting of videos, and doesn't really fit the magnificence of the song. I also think that it isn't exactly flattering for Siyeon herself, but eh, that's just my opinion. Still, it's a pretty boring video, one that lacks a decent pace and good quality. Dreamcatcher's previous videos have showcased good editing and quality, even with the more homemade of videos, so to see something so static and boring is surprising.

Oh well, whatever floats their boat.

I think that Paradise is a good song, but it's got a poor production for its video, and feels tagged on to the rest of Dystopia: The Tree of Language when it could have easily been placed in a better position. The song itself is enjoyable,t he power that Siyeon holds as a singer is incredibly, and I find Paradise a beautiful, fun listen, but I just can't get over how much of a filler this is for the album.

In A Nutshell: I truly enjoy Paradise as a song, but it's a filler track. It should have been placed a little higher, but was instead tacked on to the end. Such a shame.


Upon first hearing Dystopia: The Tree of Language, I was impressed by the quality and magnificence that this album produced. It should have come as no surprise of course, because Dreamcatcher are a group who continue to exceed my expectations and interest me no matter what they do. I am now left to wonder just how they will top this glorious release, because it will honestly be difficult.

I think very highly of Dreamcatcher's Dystopia, and have often listened to it on repeat. Sure, there are songs on here that I don't care for as much as others - I've griped enough in the review about them - but I do think that as a whole, this is a very pleasing album that will tickle many peoples fancy. There is a lot of variety here when it comes to style and genre, and though not every song will please you, I think that a majority of the tracks will be of interest to most fans and casual listeners of Dreamcatcher.

The few issues I do have with it are mostly to do with how out of place certain songs sound, but otherwise I consider this a very strong album, one that is filled with powerful instrumentals and incredible vocals. It's also incredibly atmospheric, and it blows my mind just how beautiful a good chunk of these songs are, as well as how new most of the songs are. I love it when an album does that, because I really do dislike it when an album is 80% previously released tracks, 30% new songs.

Yes, Dystopia does have its handful of previously released tracks, but thankfully that's within the minority of the release, and also tagged to the end of the album. The older releases don't have much impact on the quality of Dystopia either, and I am thankful for that.

Overall, I consider this a very strong album, one that thankfully focuses on the atmosphere, story and sound quality. It's a beautiful release, the songs are gorgeous, and there is something here for everyone to enjoy. I just wish that they hadn't placed all of the previously released tracks to the very end of the album, and instead scattered them about a little.

In short: I really enjoy this album and will continue to tolerate the songs that suck.

Favourite Songs: Scream, Red Sun, SAHARA
The Dud Tracks: Jazz Bar, Daybreak

Album Rating:


The positives outweigh the negatives when it comes to Dreamcatcher's Dystopia: The Tree of Language. It isn't a perfect release, but it certainly creates some strong imagery and epic moments thanks to its sound and the atmosphere that it encompasses. I love this album, and though it's still the ~start~ of the year, I am already thinking about where it ranks for me in my Year End music list.

I strongly recommend that you guys give this one a listen, even if you aren't the biggest fan of K-pop. For anyone who appreciates music, this is something you may enjoy, so definitely check it out and have a blast listening to the music of Dreamcatcher!

And to end this post, what are your thoughts on the songs, and do you enjoy Dreamcatcher as well? Please let me know and share your thoughts with the community!

With that said and done, it's time for me to part, my dear readers. Please take care of yourselves, enjoy the music you are listening to, and of course stay safe and healthy. In this trying time especially, please be careful and take care of your mental and physical well-being, and social distance as much as you possibly can!

Until we meet again.

Much Love,

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