A collaboration in intimate sound design and crystalline vocals
Lissom is a collaborative work between French pianist & composer Julien Marchal and British songwriter Ed Tullett – both artists I already follow separately. The concept of the album Lissom is that they originally wrote their piano and vocal parts in their own homes and then when combining it together, they turned it into something more ambient-focused with lush string and synth arrangements. The result is that Lissom has a really gentle and emotive feel that feels deeply rooted in contemporary classical music, but with a dream pop/rock edge to it at times.
“Limbo” is utterly disarming. The piano is so gently played I initially thought it was a harp because it is so soft and gracious. Ed’s voice is layered in a soft coo as he stays in a high register and sings over the top as strings slowly join the mood to sweeten the dampness. This style is exactly what encompasses the whole album but Julien’s piano and composition skills marvel in new ways to add nuance and drama to each piece. “Mascaron” swells up in clouds of rolling piano chords and bushy string bellows that stay very quiet in the background and so the whole track has a feeling like your watching a rush of wind and drama from a distance and you are observing it. “Contour” is darker in its percussive and melodic approach. I love how you can hear every hammer of each note quietly creak because of how intimately the piano is recorded. That percussive edge is enhanced with pizzicato strings whilst Tullett keeps his understated pillowy voice to just above a hush. It’s anti-dramatic but embodies everything that makes a classic dark ballad and works perfectly with the equally as beautifully bleak “Atrophy”. Between them is the light space synth of “Scalped” that gives you a pause for thought and after them the thoughtful and wistful “Doppelganger” which I have had on repeat many times since purchasing. It’s catchy and melancholy – so I love it. The album then closes with two opposite ends of the scale. “Savagery” is the biggest and boldest track on the album, bellowing out some of the pent-up anger and distress you can hear in the undertow of all the songs and it feels quite cathartic to let some of it out. In contrast “Hundreds” is minimalistic and hinges entirely on Ed’s lonely voice lamenting between caressed piano keys that are sparse and lingering.
Lissom literally came onto my radar from out of nowhere and surprised me from the first note to the last. Julien Marchal and Ed Tullett have created an intimate piece of magic here and their styles blend seamlessly together. If you need an album to reflect on whilst you balance the beauty and bittersweet taste of life – this would be one of my first recommendations. Outstanding.
Recommended track: Doppelganger
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