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Moonbin, Sanha of Astro make return as perfumers with 'Incense'

Moonbin (left) and Sanha of Astro pose for a picture at the media showcase for their third unit album,
Moonbin (left) and Sanha of Astro pose for a picture at the media showcase for their third unit album, "Incense," held in Seoul on Wednesday. (Fantagio)

Moonbin and Sanha of K-pop band Astro released their third EP, "Incense," on Wednesday, along with the music video for lead track "Madness."

The two members conducted a press conference Wednesday afternoon ahead of the album's release.

"I'm excited and nervous. I'm also a little worried whether our fans will be satisfied, but we've really put in our everything so there is no regret," Sanha said during Wednesday's event.

"Incense" marks the return of Moonbin and Sanha together 10 months after the release of their second EP, "Refuge," in March. According to Moonbin, the new album continues the concept portrayed in the previous album.

"The concept is connected with that of our second EP. If we'd conveyed the message that we'll be a refuge, this time, we embodied the message that we wish to make everyone who listens to our music happy," Moonbin said.

Fronting the album is "Madness," an electronic dance music pop track infused with powerful bass sounds and big band elements, singing of intoxicating people with their charms, compared to their scents in the lyrics.

The two musicians hope to have demonstrated their improved musical prowess on the new album. With "Madness," Moonbin took part in writing the lyrics, while Sanha made his first attempt at rapping.

"I was worried whether my rapping was OK, and Moonbin told me I did great. There were challenges in recording, but it was a good experience," Sanha said.

On the perfumer-inspired visual concepts and choreography, the two said they did not get inspiration from a particular piece of art but tried to make it natural.

"Before going to work I spray myself with perfume like a ritual, and I might have been inspired from that, out of the wish that people will feel like they could smell my perfume from our performance," Moonbin said.

The album also includes their first-ever self-written tracks -- Sanha's "Wish" and Moonbin's "Desire."

According to Sanha, "Wish" is devoted to Astro's fans, known collectively as Aroha.

"I wanted to express my gratitude for the love that I've received from fans until now," he said.

"There are lyrics that look back on some old memories. I recommend focusing on them while listening."

On penning lyrics for his song, Moonbin said, "I try to write a lot and this really helped when I made the lyrics this time."

The album also includes the English song "Perfumer" and two more Korean songs: "Chup Chup" and "Your Day."

Moonbin and Sanha of Astro's image of their third unit EP
Moonbin and Sanha of Astro's image of their third unit EP

Astro is a six-piece group that debuted in February 2016 under Fantagio. Moonbin and Sanha formed the first subunit of the group and released their first duet album, "In-Out," in September 2020. They put out prerelease single "Ghost Town" in February before the second EP, "Refuge," in expanding their musical career.

This is the first Astro-related album since some of its members renewed their contracts with Fantagio last year. On Friday, the agency announced that Jinjin, Cha Eun-woo, Moonbin and Sanha had decided to extend their partnership with Fantagio. It added Rocky was still in negotiations with the company, while MJ, who is serving in the military, will make a decision after his service ends in November.

Their third year into building chemistry together, the two artists said they feel more confident than ever.

"I think we were able to make our unit stage more professional with the experiences we've had from the full-group activity," Moonbin said, to which Sanha, Astro's youngest, piped in, "We feel our energy is clicking ever more now. It empowered me when the other bandmates told me I've really improved."

With a few days remaining before the group's seventh anniversary, the two members expressed deep-felt gratitude to their fans.

"Our driving force is Aroha. They give us an unconditional love. We're only enjoying doing music and going on the stages, but they cheer for us, and this itself empowers us to continue," Sanha said.

"The members, of course, are also a big driving force."

By Choi Ji-won (