Elisa Luu – Chromatic Sigh

Elisa Luu - Chromatic Sigh

A stellar work of ambience, Chromatic Sigh refracts the sound of cool intelligence. As far as descriptions go, you can trot out the usual suspects, like shimmering and sparkling, because they apply in abundance. The artist, Elisa Luu from Rome, Italy, composes with a maturity and patience that you can hear on this refined debut.

On first listen you hear the collaborative spirit Luu must have honed during her previous jazz experiences. Guitar and flute polish expansive synths, and keys and rhythms come and go like seasonal birds. Songs on Chromatic Sigh conjure sunrise in the tundra, some sounds are boundlessly vertical while others warm and cool on the horizon. After queuing up her personal electronic orchestra on the introductory title track, Luu really starts with the flawed “Pixie Space Rock”, a versatile song that approaches post-rock from the safety of ambient electronica. The changes in this track feel disjointed, though thisĀ approach happens elsewhere on the album with better results.

Like a fast motion soundtrack to the peace, wonder, and seclusion of wide open spaces, track two, “Arteline”, meditates to a brushing, breathy beat. “R3Son8” fills space around you with familiar sounding scratches, creaks, and rubbings. Like most of Chromatic Sigh, at the surface is a calming ambience dimpled with effects that break the monotony rather than lull you into a trance, these gentle provocations the difference between sleeping and waking.

Fifth track “Slowbeat” and the above mentioned “Pixie Space Rock” are the only missteps. The album’s second half is its best.

“Perhaps” is so good it passes too quickly, and its scope of sounds are quietly ambitious. On the inviting “Slow Bass Flute”, the lead instrument prays over a soft static filter of white noise and ebbing and whirring synths and keys. Whereas the music often becomes a wash on so much ambient music, Luu’s instrumentation remains very distinct, especially on “The Garden”. Time is kept by a tinsel beat as sounds slip away only to be quietly replaced. Sadly, we’re gently ushered out with “Warn Plate” with a reminder of the infinite.

There’s something cyclical about the music on Chromatic Sigh, and electronically this places listeners in the wonderous open spaces that still boom quietly in our natural world. These spaces are Elisa Luu’s sonic gift to the chumps stranded in suburbia or packed away in cramped apartments.

Elisa Luu’s MySpace
Hidden Shoal Recordings