Ambient, Experimental

Lili Refrain – Ulu (Review)

Artist: Lili Refrain
Album: Ulu
Genre: Experimental / Ambient
Country: Italy
Release Date: 20th of March, 2020
Released via Subsound Records

“She uses electric guitars, vocals and loops in real time, without using any computer or pre-recorded tracks (…)”, that’s how Lili Refrain is described on her bandcamp page and it absolutely nails it. Her impromptu soundscapes are always surprising and well-toned.

Ulu has three songs (“Gula”“Terra 2.0”“Mul”), but in the end, and in my opinion, it’s more like a single slightly longer than 20 minutes song divided into three acts, to rip them into single songs doesn’t do them justice. Ulu starts with a transcendental opener that attunes to the musical experience to come. It always sparkles a little spiritually, a touch of Mediterranean and feels meditative. The transition between the songs are smooth, but also significant. As for an example, Lili Refrain announces the start of Terra 2.0 with riffs from an electric guitar that wasn’t used in the nine minutes before, and she sets a different tone. It now feels more like a journey from a Mediterranean area to a more oriental sphere. The third song enters a more shaman style of music, a well-chosen ending for this musical journey. Overall, the whole album is multifaceted play with the instruments, paired with a voice that fits this style perfectly.

If you watch live gigs of her on YouTube, you are not wondering anymore about how she achieves that soundscape other musicians need one or two more helping hands or start a band from scratch to do so. She did it alone, she achieves a remarkable sound that does not need to hide its quality from the better-known artists. Sometimes, it feels like a transition scene in a movie when a panorama view on a location from a drone or helicopter lets you experience the current setting – a feeling I always liked. Sometimes, the album reminds me of Wadruna, Heilung and a little bit of the Black Folk Times by Myrkur – in a very individual style, though. Overall, I must say that the musical landscape needs more of this “crazy” musicians who just choose their very own artistic path.



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