Since I posted my submissions page here on Echosynthetic I’ve been contacted by quite a few artists. I’ve covered quite a few of them so far, in fact! Lusterlit is one of those bands that contacted me, and it caught me completely off guard. The duo of Susan Hwang and Charlie Nieland released their debut EP, List of Equipment, in March. It is comprised of five songs, each one with its inspiration rooted in a literary work. As an avid reader I thought this was an amazing idea, but does it work? The short answer is yes. The long answer? Also yes! While this is probably as far out of the musical genres I cover as I will get, the music was too good to not give it a public forum. Listen and you’ll understand.
Ceremony begins our exploration of List of Equipment. It’s inspired by the violence soaked Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. It’s a justifiably ominous song but there is a dark majesty to it…an emotional pull that holds your gaze from start to finish. It’s a brilliant piece of song writing that is honestly one of the best pieces of work I’ve heard this year. The self-titled List of Equipment follows, inspired by Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. This is an uptempo, fast paced song. There’s a lot going on here…layers of sound…a lot of layers, but I imagine French cooking is that way as well! A lot of work goes into making both French delicacies and well crafted music, so the marriage is a good one. The Day of the Triffids meets us in the middle of the EP. It’s inspired by the book by John Wyndham. This is a favorite of mine, not just because the book is a classic that I read as a child, but also because the atmosphere it sets is on par with the dread that builds in the literary work. The way Hwang and Nieland compliment each other vocally on this track is inspired. Flight continues this musical journey, inspired by Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem. Lethem’s book is one that explores race relations, self discovery, coming of age, and so many other things. The song itself feels very much like that exploration excitement you have as a kid, upbeat, funky, and fun. Sure, life may have been hard but there are adventures there and once they’re gone you understand the magic you had in your hands. Genius of Love closes out the EP, also inspired by Fortress of Solitude. And it explores the feelings of love and admiration you have for those around you, and to me, the relationships you build as you are growing up. It’s a beautiful song with a chorus that struck a chord at an emotional level for me.
I think that List of Equipment is a well executed, well written, and conceptually sound record. Writing music based on literary examples works on two levels…it gives those who have read the books a new layer to peel back and explore. For those that haven’t read the books it gives a hint of the magic within those pages and inspires them to pick up the book. Head over to Bandcamp and give this a listen! I can’t say enough good things about Lusterlit…definitely one of my new favorite bands!