You Were Never Really Here – Lusterlit (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Hearing music in a film and then exploring it fuller at a later date is something that we all indulge in. Hearing a song inspired by a novella (and the film which came from it) and then immediately ordering the book is something much less common. In the interests of balance, I must mention that I recently bought Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves because of listening to an album inspired by it, but such actions are not the norm.

Or are they? Lusterlit, better known as Charlie Nieland and Susan Hwang, make cool and creative music based on works of literature and based on their latest two tracks I would suggest that I am not the first person to succumb to their sonic literary promotions.

This double A-side or mini-ep is a brace of songs with very different vibes, and as the duo wrote one each, perhaps it says something about their personalities or at least their natural creative inclinations. Charlie’s contribution, River, is a breathy and brooding blend of claustrophobic energy and hazy vocals. The core of the song seems to drive on relentlessly, never diverging dynamically and in doing so providing the perfect, stable platform for the scintillating electronic colours to dance around it and providing the shape and form of the song.

Rolodex is Susan’s offering. A more spacious song built around a pulsing, bass-driven staccato groove which the vocals and some intriguing keyboards get to surf along. And as the track heads to its logical conclusion, it ups the tempo, accompanies itself with layers of vocal rounds, and tumbles, thumps and stomps its way over the line.

So, the novella is ordered and I know what movie I have lined up to watch tonight. From now on I will consider Lusterlit to be my guide for those times when I find myself at a loose end and looking for something to read. Not only do I trust their literary taste but right from page one I will have a built-in soundtrack running through my head.

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