Roll With The Punches (ep) / 泉出通川为谷
Vancouver-based composer Yu Su returns with her first full EP under her name since 2016 – there had been a split release in-between. Here she teams with fellow Vancouver musician Michelle Helene Mackenzie Little Birds, Moonbath – the opening track. It’s also the standout. Weird and wonderful bubbles of ambient house sit beneath Mackenzie’s indecipherable vocals – the tune a warm bath; mercurial, very nearly intangible but calming and lovely. From there it’s to a collaboration with Pender Street Steppers for the 10-minute Tipu’s Tiger. Early Kraftwerk is the obvious touchstone here. And those ambient techno compilations from the mid/late-90s, I’m remembering artists like S-Tone, Zion Train and Moves in Motion from things like the A Journey into Ambient Groove series.
It’s languid and loping and though it doesn’t exactly go anywhere there’s a special hypnotic quality in the drawled bassline, abstract hand-drums and eventual soft, synthetic backbeat.
If this was a full album the fact that the opening brace offers all you need to hear would be disappointing. But at nearing 20 minutes of a 5-track 35-minute EP that’s absolutely fine.
It’s not as if the remaining three tracks are disappointing – they just don’t quite have the sustained mood of the opening pieces.
That said I love the shimmer and space found on Of Yesterday which takes me back to the music of Cave Circles and, again, Zion Train.
The use of percussion is especially masterful.
The Ultimate Which Manages The World feels like a glitch-free Aphex Twin track. And I never knew I wanted to live in a world of glitch-free Aphex Twin until I heard this.
And closing track, Words Without Sound, is, cleverly, almost the exact opposite. With no translation of the words I’m basically hearing the sound not the words.
But to pull this EP to pieces and examine each track misses the vital mood of it – a fresh feel of ambient house that is tranquil and lush and works as much as a musical meditation – one charming, gliding move through 35 minutes. It’s the soundtrack to and for whatever you want it to be – and I love it for that.