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Elisa Luu’s Distorted Vocalese (MP3)

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).

[audio: http://www.archive.org/download/LBN003_-_Elisa_Luu_-_The_time_of_waiting/01lbn003_01_-_elisa_luu_-_r735.mp3.mp3|titles=”r735″|artists=Elisa Luu]

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.

Get the full set at archive.org. More on Luu (aka Rome-based Elisabetta Luciani) at myspace.com/elisaluu.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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