August 21, 2017

LP: Lushloss - Asking / Bearing

Lushloss collects and weaves memories into an undefinable record.

How personal can we ever get with music? When does a song stop living through “songwriting” and move to something more? Can we expose ourselves too much? Or more importantly, can we expose ourselves enough? So many moments feel like memories here. So many answers sound like they’re coming from my own relatives. What does it feel like to have a lingual disconnect with your own family? Where does music stop and identity end? There are so many moments of silence. Do I feel more memories when there is silence, or when there is talking? If there were anything outside of the text, would I be hearing it now? How can I write about this? The answer must be that I can’t, not really. Less, even, could I review it. Criticize it. There are a lot of comparisons that can be haphazardly thrown. Are those fogged-out keys under broken hip-hop beats coming from the same place as Lee (asano ryuhei)? Is this heartbreakingly bare emotion cascadian? Is it the same kind used by Jamie Stewart? Here’s a work that is beyond personal. Could it be anything other than discomforting? Here (on “Amethyst”), suddenly a “song” emerges. But it’s only for a moment. I listen, and then I ask. When was the last time I called my grandma? How long until she dies? What will she take with her? I wonder if Olive Jun was asking the same thing.

Even when there's so much weight placed on defining ourselves, we're still asked to bear so much. This is, in many ways, the main dilemma behind the gentle, dedicated young person living outside past generations’ standards. The very idea of generations and how we must bear them is a paramount element of this record from Lushloss, AKA Olive Jun. The music itself is almost breaking under the weight of its intentions. Beats disintegrate, clicks and tape flaws pitter-patter through every melody. Jun is a collector and a weaver of memories. They are more than just her bread and butter, they seem to be her instruments as she expresses the deep, spiritual effects of generational trauma on the pained individual. There is certainly a melancholy pop structure, sure. But that structure has been put through an impossible filter: one that tries to turn the audience’s experience to match the author’s. At its emotional peaks, such as on “Wanting” or in the bittersweet rhythms of “Old Oak,” this is a record that can take you to new places. It feels like a friend driving you from point A to point B in your own hometown. Everything is so familiar, yet given new meaning and significance by your chauffeur. Despite its nagging familiarity, there are zero moments on this record where you can expect to predict what’s coming next. Its crescendos crumble before their climax, its peaceful meditations are constantly disrupted. Much like modern life, every attempt at emotional wholeness is broken by buzzes, beeps, and suddenly interrupting voices. So much emotional difficulty on the record comes from the friction between the recognizability of it all and the total unknowability of its creator. When the approachable musical elements fade and the segments of interviews with loved ones intersect, the feeling is wrenching. Does it come from an empathy with Jun’s world, or does it come from a fear of losing memories lying dormant (or not so dormant) within ourselves? Jun works from a place of emotion that feels sharp, even if it is sporadic. Asking/  Bearing feels like a necessary release from this blossoming artist. It takes her emotional weight and shares it. And in the process, hopefully eases the bearing for both the artist and the listener.


Listen to Lushloss on bandcamp.

Elijah Fosl is a freelance music and culture writer who's really bad at describing themselves. They hail from Louisville but live in Chicago where they work, ferociously devouring cassette tapes and local produce. Find them on Twitter at @elifosl