Elisa Luu: Chromatic Sigh
Hidden Shoal

It takes mere moments for Elisa Luu's Chromatic Sigh to make a strong impression when its title track blossoms like some brilliantly hued meteor shower, its metallic materials slowly exploding into a panoramic field of glistening haze. That such an auspicious and confident opening should be the inaugural piece on her first full-length release makes the accomplishment all the more significant.

Interestingly, the Rome-based Luu (real name Elisabetta Luciani) started out as a jazz-fusion sax player who performed with various groups and participated in Berklee Jazz clinics, but Chromatic Sigh is anything but a fusion album with saxophone as the lead instrument. Instead, it's a full-blown plunge into digitally-crafted electronic composition, with Luciani weaving flute, sax, and guitar sounds into the quietly radiant fabric of her material. Moments of blissful reverie are captured in “Perhaps” and “Arteline,” both of which breathe like the softest of sighs, while the ruminative “Slow Bass Flute” carves a slow and stately path through a sleepy forest, its tranquil calm punctuated by sudden swoops. Coupling vibraphone accents with synthetic whooshes, “Warn Plate” ends the project on an ethereal note. Chromatic Sigh is, however, anything but wallpaper music, as the pulsating post-rock attack of “Pixie Space Rock” demonstrates when Luu conjures the illusion of a full ensemble by overlaying an electric guitar solo over a driving bass-and-drums combination. At forty minutes, Luciani's album is also admirably concise and to-the-point, and ultimately registers as fully-formed music-making that blends melody-based song structures and bold instrumental arrangements into a thoroughly satisfying whole.

November 2009