zondag 26 oktober 2014

Passerby. Luluc

Peace and quiet is the reflection that is presented to us on the cover of Passerby. Woman and cat fully and contentedly asleep. From the look of it an afternoon or early evening nap, with the cat snuggling up. The cover suits Passerby perfectly. Most of the music is just as restfull and relaxing as this cover is.

Luluc is an Australian duo consisting of Zoë Randell and Steve Hassett. Although the duo mainly operates from the United States at present. In 2008 Luluc's first album, 'Dear Hamlyn' saw the light. It got Luluc some grassroot following in its home country. After six years there is a follow up, produced by The National's Aaron Dessner. Another sure sign of the influence this band has on the current music landscape.

Dessner's production at times is almost non-existent, while at the same time there is a lot going on on Passerby. The sound is as if Zoe Randell is singing in the front of a large hall. Her voice is always up front, no matter what else is happening. The rest of the accompaniment is somewhere behind her in this large hall. Some instruments are placed so far at the back, that they are barely discernible in the sound at all. This explains on the one hand the restful atmosphere as on the other the under the skin sort of tensions that invade Passerby every once and again.

Zoe Randell at all times is at ease it seems. She is cool, calm and collected in her vocal expression. Sometimes supported by a male vocal in, the background of course or she sings a second or third vocal herself. Mixed 100% behind her, so that there is no interruption of any kind to her vocal expression. I can't call them harmonies, as they are all but that.

The music of Luluc goes under the moniker indie-folk. I can live with that. There are some references to Nick Drake, Sandy Denny (or Fairport Convention). It is even possible to hear some subdued 'All around my hat' references in Passerby, but in the end these references are all too easy. Randell and Hassett have created their own universe. If anything, the album reminds me most of Gretchen Lohse's debut album 'Primal rumble' (http://wonomagazine.blogspot.nl/2014/02/primal-rumble-gretchen-lohse.html). Although her songs are a little more alternative and idiosyncratic, with a producer like Aaron Dessner she may well come close to what's on display on Passerby. A song like 'Without a face' comes so close to Lohse's songs. The difference is Dessner. He manages to present most songs on Passerby with these extras, that make me prick up my ears, sometimes even to strain them to find out what is going on there in the back of this large hall. Things remain totally subdued, except once at the end of 'Tangled heart'. All of a sudden the horns are unleashed for a few moments, a range of notes. The moment that Randell sang all there was to tell. Creating this uncharacteristic moment on Passerby.

Passerby is not an album for all seasons. For that it is to quiet, to subdued. For the moments that music like that is called for, Passerby is an album that may just fulfil all your needs for quiet, beautiful music.


You can listen to 'Small window' here:


If you like to try Gretchen Lohse, here's the link:


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