(All Album Reviews by ffroyd)
Lu7 are a jazzy duo from Japan consisting of guitarist Tsutomu Kurihara and keyboardist Luna Umegaki. Their debut album efflorescence was originally released in 2002 to rave reviews and quickly sold out. The kind folks at Poseidon/Musea records have seen fit to reissue this gem with an added bonus track.
The music of Lu7 can probably be best described as soft jazz with Kurihara’s guitar soaring over the proceedings. He has a wonderful mellow style that I would compare to Metheney or Holdsworth and folks who enjoy those players should check him out. To me, what really stands out on this album though is the rhythm programming from Umegaki. The purists out there might want to kill me for singing the praises of the almighty drum machine but this is some good stuff. These are no simplistic, factory-preset beats tacked on just to have drums with the music. Umegaki has assembled some very complex and unconventional patterns that compliment the soft jazz style brilliantly. Her keyboard playing and compositional skills are superb as well.
While I’m not usually much of a fan of soft jazz, the subtle qualities of this music make it difficult not to appreciate. Every track is a joyful expression and they’re all well crafted. The programming makes the whole affair deceptive but it’s very effective and skillfully executed. I’ve only had the album a short time and my favorites at this point are the 3 part “Sonatine” suite, the following track “Flying Seed (Landscape 37)” and the bonus cut isn’t bad either. There is some humming/singing on that but it’s not credited. I think it may be from Kurihara. “UT06” sounds like sort of an improv jam thing anyhow.
They’ve released a second album since this one and there’s also an excellent review for that here. L'esprit de l'exil is good, but I guess I wasn’t as impressed with that as I am with their debut. Some folks might remember this band from the now defunct mp3.com, this was where efflorescence was first introduced into the world.