Martina Lussi “Balance”

Laced throughout Martina Lussi’s Balance is her voice. Stretched and processed, broken down to a granular level, and rebuilt into intricate spires of sound bound by rhythmic pulses and cosmic orchestrations. Balance thrives on so many levels, but the immediately engaging palette and surprise hooks will pull listeners into a close embrace while a bare emotional edge runs across each piece, leaving a lasting mark. 

Dividing Balance is “Fragments of Attention,” the point that marks the portion of the album recorded before the pandemic and that which was recorded during lockdown. It’s a fractured lodestar, humming with purpose and hanging with lament. Warm drones beckon a new day as harmoniums swell and begin to fade, giving over to quiet chirps and electronic static. It’s a world breaking apart, the hiss-laden drama never quite able to extinguish those soft, beguiling tones. Lussi feels the air change but doesn’t shy away.

Her voice is pushed through an effects matrix, becoming simultaneously robotic and spritely as bouncing, energetic chord progressions repeat into the distance on “Time Lapse.” It’s catchy; an alien pop exploration for a new world. When Lussi’s voice shifts from interesting harmonies into an almost-whimper, it’s a tiny, powerful encapsulation of the rollercoaster of emotions embedded within Balance. “Time Lapse” needs less than three minutes to live forever. That spirit bleeds into the broken neon dancefloor zone strung across hollow pads, simple rhythms, and plucked arpeggios of sad and whimsical closer, “How To Disappear.”

Even if the second half of Balance is an unforgettable fantastic performance, the vulnerable threads of the first half lay the foundation. “Meditation On the Multilab” is a stunner. Lussi’s voice is hypnotic, notes strung together at odd angles, the feeling of imminent loss saturating every vocal strain. Layers of synthetic sound are pensive, struggling for air. When the skittering beat makes a brief appearance near the end, it’s a wake-up call.

Balance is stunning. “Vessel” is joyous, even if grey clouds float in the background hinting at what’s to come. Even when Lussi’s voice is vocoded and saturated on “Routine,” feathery across the lush strings, it drips with heavy emotions. Balance creates these moments where our memories of what came before can be acknowledged even if the pulse nudges ahead ready to forget. 

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