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Kelsey Lu - Blood Transfusion EP Music Album Reviews

The Los Angeles singer-songwriter’s music gets a beat-oriented makeover in a collection of remixes from Skrillex, Omar S, Lafawndah, and other club producers.

Singer-songwriter Kelsey Lu makes dense, baroque music that seamlessly fuses pop, electronic, and R&B. Her earliest work was built from mournful cello loops and vocals that crackled with electricity, making it feel like you were discovering her music in a dimly lit living room every time. But on her debut album this year, she filled out her sound with guitar, piano, and touches of synthesizer. She has pushed even further outward with Blood Transfusion, an EP in which a diverse cast of remixers brightens and accelerates her songs, most of them from her debut album.


These six producers take vastly different approaches to Lu’s music. From German DJ Dixon’s deep house to Omar S’ techno to two distinct takes on “Due West,” the songs establish an array of sounds and moods. A club mix of “Shades of Blue,” Lil M (aka frequent Fade to Mind designer Miles Martinez), fragments and repeats staccato, glittery slivers of words and exclamations, gleaning new textures rather than meaning from them. Lafawndah’s remix of “Due West” similarly layers fragments of phrases, albeit longer snippets, as sonic building blocks, focusing largely on the soaring titular phrase. By repeating the most intense moments of the song, the remix magnifies and extends the euphoria that was previously reserved for the chorus. By contrast, Skrillex’s remix of the same track builds upon much of the song’s structural integrity—unsurprising, as Skrillex produced the original as well. It’s a new look for the former EDM troublemaker: The song leans into Lu’s sedated croons with a murky mix of sparse percussion and churning synth that’s more hypnotic than frantic.

These remixes generally cut to the chase faster than the originals. Curved, elongated choruses transform into chants that stomp through your brain, immediate and unrelenting. On Detroit producer Omar S’s remix of “Poor Fake,” the contrast feels productive and exciting. Where earlier, the song was buoyed primarily by strings, on the remix, Lu’s chopped vocals thrillingly trip and sputter over grating synths. The slight electronic flourishes that already existed in the song transition seamlessly here.

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On her debut, Lu’s husky, symphonic vocals and dramatic lyricism imbued her music with a mythological quality, as if plucked from a fairy tale. But the details of Lu’s voice and the stories she tells are often lost in these remixes. Though her falsetto peeks through on Omar S’s “Poor Fake” rework and Dixon’s “Why Knock for You” remix, her expansive, exploratory crooning and quaint production flourishes—like the fluttering bird calls sampled on “Due West” and “Kindred”—are largely buried under layers of distorted percussion and synth. Though Lil M’s “Shades of Blue” remix is exciting as a standalone piece, it’s hard not to miss the original’s gorgeous lyrics about love and longing.

More than anything, Blood Transfusion exhibits the range and potential of Lu’s sound. Some of these songs lack the vulnerability and immediacy of her earlier, stripped-down pieces, and it would be nice to see more of that emotional weight brought to these fast-paced, rhythm-heavy tracks. Nonetheless, it’s remarkable hearing her work stretched from hushed string arrangements to synth-forward mixes, from your living room to the club. And it’s exciting to think of the doors this EP opens up—the spaces and sounds she has yet to occupy.


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