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Lisa o Piu When This Was the Future Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

It might be quiet, but it’s no less astonishing for that.

Sid Smith 2009

There’s no denying the act of retro-genuflection that’s going on in the first album from Lisa o Piu.  Notwithstanding the odd bleep of ambient electronica, When This Was the Future could easily pass as something recorded in the early 1970s.

Like several albums from that period, this record came about after Lisa Isaksson and the band, Piu, went to the country “to get it together”. Whilst it would be easy to be snarky about such archetypal hippy shenanigans, when the results are as beautiful and as entrancing as this, you wish more acts would follow suit.

Recorded in rural Sweden, Lisa o Piu (literally translated as Lisa and More) have constructed a delicate sound world of radiant acoustic guitars, dreamy flutes, autumnal mellotrons, finger cymbals, and melancholic arcs of electric guitar.

At the centre of this beguiling folky mix, Isaksson’s voice gently unfurls with songs whose  words are laced with references to passing summers, rollercoaster rides, the lateness of the hour, and the possibility of happiness just around the corner.

The moods and textures are overwhelmingly bucolic. Isaksson’s singing, with its cut-glass diction, swells and swirls in rich, honeyed harmonies that can stop you in your tracks with their fragile beauty.

At a superficial level, Mattias Gustavsson’s pin-sharp production showcases a collection of good tunes well played. Yet repeated listening also reveals this to be an exquisite cycle whose emotional depth proves quite irresistible.

Don’t think for one minute that just because the aural landscape draws upon older influences that have in some cases become overly familiar, that Lisa and the team are not capable of jaw-dropping surprises.

Towards the end of Forest Echo, the spidery tangle of guitar notes slowly devolves to a slow-motion cascade of breathy flutes, transforming the commonplace into something quite extraordinary.

Not an album that will grab you by the lapels, so much as one that gently convinces and gets under the skin. It might be quiet, but it’s no less astonishing for that.

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