Pitchfork (Website) - "The result is a revelatory experience that requires no legible revelations: vocals of ecstatic defiance matched to music seemingly composed of pure magnitude; melancholic synths, sparse guitars, and bombastic strings and drums."
Personnel: Ellery Roberts (vocals, guitar); Ebony Hoorn (vocals); Rory Storm (violin, viola); Eleanor Bony (cello); Josh Poole (saxophone); Aaron Wood (trumpet); Stephen Hermitt (drums).
Audio Mixer: Matt Green.
Recording information: Studio Mute & the Bunker (05/2015); The Osea Island (05/2015).
Photographer: Ebony Hoorn.
Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing, the debut album from English-Dutch duo LUH (an acronym for "lost under heaven"), is the sonic consummation of both art and love between ex-WU LYF vocalist Ellery James Roberts and artist Ebony Hoorn. Their union informs the entirety of the 12-song cycle, melding extremes against a soundtrack of textured atmospherics, clashing vocal deliveries, and an ominous intensity. Even in (relatively) calmer moments, like "Here Our Moment Ends" and "Lament," LUH deliver with such earnestness that it's hard to relax. That passion translates into an immersive listening experience as Roberts and Hoorn lure listeners into an orbit that does not relent. Spiritual Songs was produced by Bobby Krlic, aka the Haxan Cloak, and his touch infuses each song, imparting dread, providing uplift, or simply hypnotizing with looped beats. These flourishes rarely overpower, allowing the focus to remain squarely on Roberts and Hoorn's vocals. Roberts' distinctive gravelly shout veers from bloody and raw ("Unites") to heaving and shredded ("Someday Come"), which amps up the potency. Meanwhile, Hoorn delivers with cool detachment, reining in Roberts' unhinged yelps. When the spotlight shines on Hoorn, like on the pretty "Future Blues," the results are soothing and entrancing. Album highlights include the dark, new wave-inspired "Beneath the Concrete," which rides a Depeche Mode-worthy digital heartbeat, and "Lost Under Heaven," which bashes hard-hitting drums and slashing guitars through thick shoegaze fuzz. "$ORO" is the creative centerpiece of the album, incorporating Auto-Tuned vocals, booming cacophony, and a thrilling industrial break that explodes at the finish. The singular moment of peace ends the album. "The Great Longing" is a bittersweet acoustic duet that closes with a promise: "I've got faith in us, so hold my faith as trust and let's start today." It loops directly back into the first track "I&I," thus completing the circle and starting the cycle of love once again. Spiritual Songs is not a casual listen and can be emotionally overwhelming at times, requiring complete attention in order to fully enter the intimate world of these star-crossed lovers. Once inside, Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing is as intoxicating as falling in love for the first or last time. ~ Neil Z. Yeung