Elisa Luu & Markus Mehr
Two new albums in the last month or so have featured prominently on the show, both on the great Hidden Shoal label, one Italian, one German, and both inhabiting the broad terrain of instrumental ambient electronica.
Elisa Luu's Un giorno sospeso ("a suspended day" or "one day suspension", depending on your translator) is a beautiful album of drifting, teasing textures. "Suspended" might be a good word to describe the kind of head-over-heels dizziness it could induce in you. It has more of a homely feel compared to her last (first) album, Chromatic sigh, which had quite an exotic, spacey atmosphere.
Like me, you might find it hard to get past the first two tracks - the gentle twinkling bleep of 'Flussigirl', with flute samples set in a bed of friendly static; and 'Se fosse per me', a glorious tune that rides on a wave of treated fuzz guitar samples, with a warm electric piano for company. It also features a beguiling saxophone interlude, reflecting Luu's jazz/fusion background with the instrument.
Those first 11 minutes are some of the most gorgeous on record this year, although the album has much more of interest too. 'Il tempo di capire' has quite an industrial basis, with strident drumbeat to match. And I loved the lurching/chiming contrast at the heart of 'Love 37'.
Basically, get some Elisa Luu into your life. You may not know it, but you need her.
Markus Mehr also has history with The Underground of Happiness. I interviewed him a couple of years ago, over the phone from his home in Augsburg, at the time of his Lava album (you'll find that interview in the menu on the right of the page->), a brilliant, subterranean slow burn of drones, clicks and screeches. His main instrument is guitar, something which is not at all obvious from the sounds he makes.
Since Lava, Mehr has embarked on something of a landmark project, a triptych of albums, which are at least semi-conceptual. On is the 2nd in the sequence, following In, with Off still to come later this year. In featured two pieces of over 20 minutes each (link here for more detail), while Off will consist of a single track. On is something of a departure in the series, comprising eight tracks over about 45 minutes, but still, you might get the impression that this is music requiring some commitment. However, whatever you give to Markus Mehr, you get back so much in return.
The magnificent 'Flaming youth', for example, is like walking through a room full of machine saws, buzzing and flaring (with no little structure and melody, by the way), before progressing on to a club chillout area where a slow-motion jazz group play a beautiful blissed out loop at funeral pace, under a warm umbrella of static. It's like some twilight netherworld dreamt up by David Lynch, and very much like his creations, even though you may be disorientated, and even a little afraid, you won't want to leave.
And the majestic 'Duck became swan' continues with the jazz loop theme, gradually submerging the tune under waves of drone and fuzz.
You can listen to the whole album here. Take some time for a wonderful magic carpet ride.