Yu Su - Yellow River Blue

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Before she moved to Vancouver for university in 2014, Yu Su had never really heard electronic music. "I had no idea what rave was," she Wed Feb 03 07:00:00 GMT 2021

The Quietus

Producer and sound artist Yu Su was born in Kaifeng, China, but didn't discover electronic music until she moved to Vancouver in 2013 and became immersed in the local scene. Her debut solo album (she’s also one half of the experimental duo You're Me) is a buoyant collection of mid-tempo house and ambient explorations that draws inspiration from these two homes.

Su first came to attention in 2017 with 'Infi Love', a murky, moody house 12" that sounded like it had been dredged up from beneath the ocean, in a good way. Yellow River Blue (the title is a reference to China's Huang He river), by contrast, is warm and inviting, produced with precision and a glossy, futurist sheen. Largely written on the road before lockdown, it winds between moods, never settling on a single tone or genre.

For the most part, it's joyful stuff. The propulsive opener 'Xiu' bounces Su's voice along a looped pipa, with live drums and bass. 'Melaleuca' is a lush cut of tropical house reminiscent of Palmbomen II that grows and grows from its initial sparse beat. And 'Touch-Me-Not' is just a lovely bit of sonic deconstruction, taking a simple synth part and melting it down into ambient soup. It feels like catching an icicle and watching it dissolve through your fingers.

A couple of moments don't quite stick. 'Gleam' is the most conventional track here, with a thick, dubby opening giving way to discrete microhouse drums, while 'Dusty' meanders pleasantly for a few minutes without really going anywhere. They're both perfectly fine and too well-crafted to write off, but neither are as memorable or inventive as the rest of the LP.

More exciting are the moments where Su allows a hint of something heavier and stranger to break through. ‘Futuro’ has a dub groove, paired with an eerie, jittering synth line that weirdly recalls late period Coil. 'Klein' opens with a couple of minutes of creepy ambient noise, all distant whistles and murmuring voices, before a lugubrious trip hop beat lurches into focus. Yellow River Blue is generally pretty chill, but it's not, thankfully, chill out.

The album closes out with 'Melaleuca (At Night)', a dreamy, wistful piece that feels like walking through a bustling city at night. In moments like this, Su's work is truly transportive, conveying a wonderful sense of place and atmosphere, while still working as music you can dance to. A very promising debut.

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Sun Feb 07 14:54:46 GMT 2021

Pitchfork 76

Read Nathan Smith’s review of the album.

Fri Feb 05 06:00:00 GMT 2021