The variety on Elisa Luu‘s recent release, The Time of Waiting, from the netlabel known playfully as La Bèl (labelnetlabel.com), is enough to suggest less an album than a reel — less a collection of interrelated music than a set whose lack of self-evident correlation serves the primary purpose of expressing the wide range of which Luu is capable. And to that end, it more than succeeds. There are playful beats, distorted as if through a watery mirror. There is quasi-orchestral extravagance, shot through with a theremin-like lead. But if one track must be selected, the keeper is the set’s opener, “r735,” which has four distinct elements that balance each other perfectly (MP3).
There is the opening vocal of children playing (sharing a theme from the album’s cover photograph), and the percolating guitar they’re set against; there is the mood-setting synthesizer. And then there is the synthesizer-like material that in time reveals itself as cleverly transformed vocals, vowels stretched until they bead, and that in turn provide a common ground between all the other components.
Vocals remain a conflicted subject and source in electronic music, and the way in which Luu treats them for “r735” is exemplary — the field recording recognizes them as merely one part of the aural landscape, while the digitally manipulated ones are adopted as source material, useful for their texture and intrinsic sonic qualities.