Ellery James Roberts is a man vying for authenticity and originality in a world polluted by a lazy, settle-for-less, take whatever is right in front of you mentality. He is compelled to question the format of the world around him, and why we accept it as is. His deep moral obligation to this ideal led to the demise of his former band, Wu Lyf – whose unique and rapid ascent, album release, and demise has left the musicians involved with a form of cult status to those who adored the Manchester band. For Ellery, Wu Lyf too quickly fell into the traditional guitar band setup. Since Wu Lyf folded, fans of the band have been granted some form of reassurance that these musicians still have plenty to offer in the form of Francis Lung – the new musical project of former bassist Tom McClung – and Los Porcos, though other than the initial posting of ‘Kerou’s Lament’ by Ellery, he went mostly M.I.A for the best part of two years. In that time, he met Ebony Hoorn, fell in love, moved to Amsterdam and started making music with Ebony under the name LUH – which stands for Lost Under Heaven.
A full collaboration between Ellery and Ebony – who has a background as a visual artist in Amsterdam – LUH began to drip feed material to the listening public as of 2015 though they formed sometime around 2012 after Ebony met Ellery in a Manchester squat while visiting a friend. More recently, they signed a deal with Mute Recordings and went about completing their debut album ‘Spiritual Songs For Lovers To Sing.’ Five years have passed since Wu Lyf debut ‘Go Tell Fire To The Mountain’ though, in the best sense possibly imaginable, some of the better elements of the Manchester band’s sound – which were evidently Ellery’s doing – have been retained in the sonic universe of LUH, all the while moving forward onto new territory that his former band seemingly could never have traversed.
‘I&I’ is a somber and slow-burning opener, but perfectly introduces the listener to the synergy of Ellery and Ebony’s vocals. ‘Unites’ begins with a guitar riff that wouldn’t have sounded alien on Wu Lyf’s first album. The incoming bass line and screeching vocals make it somewhat indistinguishable from Wu Lyf’s music – in the best way possible.
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‘Beneath The Concrete’ continues the lyrical themes of Wu Lyf – the notion of ‘concrete’ being extremely prevalent in Ellery’s previous lyrical imagery – though sonically, the song strays into areas untouched by Ellery in the past, dark Euro-Dance and Electro elements at the forefront. The beginning of the song sounds like it could soundtrack some grandiose space-war movie. The main intentions of LUH’s music and existence is stated in the lyrics: “Trying to live a life that means something more.”
‘Future Blues’ sees Ebony take the lead vocal, over a warm and soul-satisfying bluesy guitar riff, and sounds vastly different to anything that precedes it on the album. “Sitting around in this place, its just another day, watching time turn to waste” injects primal energy that makes you want to jump out of passiveness and attack the injustice and boredom in your life. ‘Loyalty’ is a song in a similar vein to ‘Future Blues’ finding Ellery initially taking the lead vocal role rather than Ebony, though she emerges, glorious, as though an angel sent to placate Ellery’s screeching soul. The song breaks new sonic barriers, Ellery’s heavily stylistic spoken word over the violin feels as though it is taking music to newly conceived places.
‘$ORO’ employs auto-tune on both voices. Elements of 90s Trance come through in the synth. The ending descends into a Techno influenced, distorted and dreamlike palette of white noise and reverberated vocals clips. ‘First Eye To The New Sky’ also employs the use of auto-tune, though over a distinctly more relaxed instrumental. ‘Lost Under Heaven’ is a fast and heavy grunge-duet, and strays the furthest from anything else on the album, though does not appear out-of-step.
‘Lament’ – the first post-Wu Lyf song that saw the light of day – appears as the penultimate album track. It is LUH’s mission statement –“To powers of old, to powers to be, you f***** up this world, but you won’t f*** with me” – and an anthem for individual and societal progression in the face of hardship. ‘The Great Longing’ ends the album with lavish and beautiful acoustic guitar and piano interplay, supporting the dual vocals of Ellery and Ebony. It bleeds pure catharsis as the album comes to a close.
In reference to his time as a member of Wu Lyf, Ellery noted: “Any time it feels like a generic Rock’ n’ Roll band I get really down.” LUH sees Ellery committing to this ideal of remaining unconventional in the name of progress. The music on ‘Spiritual Songs For Lovers To Sing’ feels like a step away from our standardly conceived notions of how music should be placed together; for example what instruments or sounds correspond with certain vocal styles and the overall feel of the music. Though the ultimate triumph is that, in doing so, truly beautiful and moving music has been created. Ellery and Ebony have created their own world for us to step into, familiar in some regards, but excitingly new in many more.
‘Spiritual Songs For Lovers to Sing’ is released 6th May 2016 via Mute Recordings
This LUH article was written by Adam Skirving, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Zoe Anderson. Portrait shot by berber http://