Numbers // Trouble In Utopia
Valiska’s new record Numbers is a conceptual album assembled using samples from number stations which are radio stations that broadcast strings of numbers at random intervals throughout the day. These stations were originally used by governments to communicate with agents in foreign countries starting back in WW1, and have since been sampled by Boards of Canada and Wilco. However, unlike those acts, Numbers exclusively uses these samples. The composition of each of the four tracks is guided by the sampled material as opposed to simply being augmented by them. The result is an eerie pastiche of voices long since lost to time, accompanied by Valiska mastermind Krzysztof Sujata’s mourning synthesizer pads. It’s a beautiful album that is dominated by feelings of loss, impermanence, and chaos. The fact that this is communicated so clearly is a testament to Sujata’s ability to re-contextualize what are inherently meaningless samples to be overflowing with emotion and meaning.
- Sean Newton
Deluxe Hotel Room // Rock Creek Music
Nearly five years after Lucette’s haunting premier release, Black is the Colour, Deluxe Hotel Room seems to be worth the wait. While reminiscent of Black is the Colour in its strong storytelling and tastefully reserved vocal delivery, Lucette has matured to paint with a stronger pallet. Still, with roots in Americana, R&B and gospel, the Sturgill Simpson produced album is a collection of well-crafted pop songs, offering digital sounds in place of traditional instrumentation. “Crazy Bird” pines with a melody just familiar enough, as if you must have heard it before. The lively “Angel” and dreamy “Fly to Heaven” lean towards pop formats, effervescently affected vocals and strong saxophone phrases.
Truly a highlight, “Lover Don’t Give Up On Me” seems to personify the strengths of Deluxe Hotel Room as a whole; lyrically thoughtful, a focused arrangement, with a lingering feeling of a pop ballad. After half a decade Lucette has come back as the dynamic, striking and sensuous focal point of a well-crafted, and deeply human sophomore release.
- Ella Coyes