Review Summary: At home in the worldYellow River Blue
’s liner notes indicate that the record was created ‘at home’ in seven different places across China, Canada and The United States. While, naturally, this could mean that Yu Su has seven houses scattered across the globe, it seems much more likely that the artist is able to craft a sense of home, a sense of belonging, no matter where she finds herself. This is evident throughout the record, as it comfortably weaves a wide array of influences into a skeleton of glitchy ambient and minimal house.
The album’s first track, ‘Xiu’, appears to incorporate every single element that can be found on Yellow River Blue
in its brief four minutes. This setup makes for a brilliantly constructed record: while the opener may be somewhat jarring with its manically hypnotising patterns, odd electronic quips, and prominent inclusion of traditional Chinese instrumentation, each subsequent track focuses and elaborates on one such aspect. The deconstruction of ‘Xiu’ allows for an exploration of a multitude of different sounds and influences, and, most importantly, Yu Su’s ability to display her strengths across this particular board. The excellent ‘Touch-Me-Not’ concentrates on a warm, bubbly ambient atmosphere, culminating into a collision of glitches delivering a sparkly, wonderfully minimalistic climax. Entirely relaxed, the song possesses a unique sense of urgency; evoking a sense of fully achieved, yet vaguely threatened serenity.
This relative placidity is directly followed by the equally impressive ‘Gleam’. While allowing its instrumentals to breathe in a similar manner, the song zooms in on a simplistic, repetitive drum pattern. Much more abrasive than its counterpart, it remains drained in sparkly ambience, with an obscured vocal sample adding an eerie touch to the track. Similarly, ‘Klein’ takes its time building up to metallic, industrial drums pounding through an abstract backdrop of drowned out wails and nearly indistinguishable synths. The song demarcates Yellow River Blue
’s paradoxical strengths brilliantly: entirely directly engaging in its highly addictive melodies, its primary worth can be found in every odd, concealed sound, that somehow manages to fit just right: everything feels fully organic.
As such, while every song appears to directly contrast the previous one, Yu Su’s ability to maintain her uniquely diverse approach focused throughout the record makes for a highly cohesive listen. Every sound can be traced back to the opening cut, and, more importantly, each decision makes perfect sense. As a direct result of this, Yellow River Blue
wears its influences on its sleeve, yet manages to find depth in doing so. It’s an album that persistently engages, and never fails to highlight Yu Su’s sophisticated artistry.