More artists should re-record their own songs. Jazz artists have long made alternate takes available. Pop musicians should do the same. I don’t mean a re-mix. I’m talking about an entire re-performance. Songs are not fixed. Music’s essence is its openness to constant interpretation.
Luno have done exactly this on their latest release Close to Silence. The band offer acoustic – or acoustic-ish – re-workings of previously released songs.The guitars and drums have mostly, though not entirely, been replaced by piano. The one constant is Ema Brabcová’s unmistakable voice. Powerful, sultry and emotive, it is the ethereal foundation of the music.
The opening track sets the mood for the album and this album is all about mood. Brabcová’s voice floats like mist over the icy tinkling of piano keys. When she sings “I want to live your life / I want to see the dark inside”, menace and yearning emanate from the stereo. The atmosphere persists up to and including the seventh track “Vertigo” when the piano line becomes positively skeletal. There is a slight change in tone with the next two songs “Come and Fail” and “This is the Fake”, where the guitar returns to the fore. On the whole, however, the sound over most of the album is more dark cabaret than the guitar-driven pop the band is known for.
Interestingly, though the clearness of the production and the incorporation of effects and loops reveal that this album is a product of the studio, the key elements, namely Brabcová’s voice and the piano, would work better live where the emotion and drama would have their rightful place.
I admire this fidelity to a vision. Luno have taken a particular colour, figuratively speaking, and used it to saturation point. Admittedly, the atmosphere on the album is heady and won’t suit all occasions. This one is best saved for dimly-lit moments, alone, perhaps with a bottle of wine.