Elisa Luu Reviews

Elisa Luu “Un Giorno Sospeso” – SSG Music

September 14th, 2012

The cover art gets you started — standing in a tall building, looking at the city through huge windows as the sun lies low on the horizon, the moment stretching out. Elisa Luu’s music has this sense of intimacy and discovery about it, something like swimming underwater with a school of porpoises, but with a deep intelligence that’s never sentimental or sanctimonious. There are definitely no pan flutes or whale songs in Luu’s ambient creations, as they are composed of synthetic, impossible-to-identify electronic gestures. Her tool kit of curious, tactile sounds continually catch you off guard; you’re always trying to figure out what they are and if they’re going to hurt you.

Opening tune “Flussigirl” flirts with a high pitched tone that could have more meaning to a dog’s ear than a human’s, until it flowers into a bouncing network of color, little trills and side modulations inside bigger patterns. The result is instantly mesmerizing. A brassy, spastic riff in the middle of “Se fosse per me” (“If it were not for me”) that sounds something like a shuffling herd of trumpets comes out of nowhere, magically conjuring a New Orleans jazz band for a giddy, groovy moment, then diffuses rapidly. She is no monk of the avant-garde — the songs clearly have groove, defining artful, philosophical spaces while retaining style and humor.

It’s easy to think about being submerged, soft waves undulating around and through you — but it’s almost certainly more exciting than this, as if the magnetic language of the marine fauna and all the world’s telecommunications were audible to you, vibrating through the watery medium. At the same time, there is a narrative journey through each space, the skilled hand of the artist guiding you through the unknown.

Stylistically, a certain love of repetitive figures suggests the influence of Steve Reich, but this is only one strategy among many for Luu — overall her vibe is much more than just about repetition, also about the spaces between tones, optimizing the tension and friction therein. “Prima di…” has a whole buildup that feels like having a deep emotional connection to the sound of a plane taking off, or else some kind of industrial HVAC machinery. “Qui” lingers in the space between slowly sawing violins, accentuating friction and noise, but with a soft, subtonal weave that segues into an almost Neil Young-ish take on electric strings.

In many places, she isn’t afraid to apply some sexy drum rhythms that put the album into a comfortable zone that could be played in mixed company. Her thoughtfulness is not lost in these instances — the beats are never cop-outs, and never break the continuity of the music’s character — they seem more like a shot of espresso between meditations on modern art paintings.

The saddest moment is when the album ends, because of how short and fleeting it is — you want to stay in it forever. These missives from the consciousness of Elisa Luu embrace you in codes, like having a conversation with a dear friend, and what they say more than anything else is that she appreciates you — she seems to have a feeling for who you are and who you could be, and it’s encouraging. You could make a film or a slideshow of your life or your art to go with it and no matter what, this soundscape would pull your story toward cool, disciplined discoveries. 9/10

SSG Music

Elisa Luu “Un Giorno Sospeso” – Ondarock

June 29th, 2012

Excerpt (translated from the Italian): “While her bright debut Chromatic Sigh (2009) had all the contours of startling revelation, in the three years since that disc, the Roman artist has refined the familiar juxtaposition and manipulation of sounds… Un Giorno Sospeso develops the colourful electro-acoustic layers of composition, creating a universe of tones and microsounds in constant motion… Among the many interlocking compositions, Elisa returns to surface traces of jazz, accentuating the warmth of environmental sounds, as if suspended in a dream… Whatever the nuances that draw the listener, what’s most striking is how sensitive Elisa Luu is to detail, creating an emotionally rich balance between a dream state and measured, rhythmic dynamism.”

Ondarock

Elisa Luu “Un Giorno Sospeso” – Fluid Radio

June 7th, 2012

Excerpt: “Hidden Shoal Recordings continues to consolidate its reputation for unearthing consistently exciting, engaging and intriguing material with the forthcoming release of Un Giorno Sospeso by Elisa Luu… The eight tracks on Un Giorno Sospreso have a grand electronic air, counterbalanced by skittering textural flairs and enigmatic organic tones. The melodic base is solid, and there are reassuring hooks for the listener to grab onto if they require them. The approach to many of the tracks is quite dynamic; many of the pieces steer away from their introductions, developing into different beasts from what you expect from the first impression. Previous album Chromatic Sigh (whilst excellent) followed more of an ambient template, with the new record displaying a stronger emphasis on structure… Perhaps the most intriguing part of the recording is the way that Luu has balanced what are (in places) quite haunting and abrasive tonal elements, yet maintained an overall aspect of optimism and whimsy. Balancing light and dark evenly, tracks like closer “Noi” are clean, engaging and direct. This mix is reflected in some cracking bright retro cover art, a hallucinatory metropolitan Saul Bass adventure.”

Fluid Radio

Elisa Luu “Se Fosse Per Me” – Luna Kafe

June 7th, 2012

Excerpt: “Luu creates spellbinding compositions; this time a warm whirlwind melody with suggestive lazy-beat rhythms, topped with a delicate garnish, and glazed with precise instrumentation. An indeed fine blend of analogue-digital. She’s one of a few female electronica artist competing the entire male armadas of the genre. Elisa Luu’s sure got some Midas touch. She’s a Queen Midas.”

Luna Kafe