Lisa o Piu - "Cinnamon Sea" (When This was the Future)
What more can you say about psychedelic folk in the year 2009? It’s been six years since The Wire coined the term “New Weird America,” and even longer since artists like Tower Recordings and Greg Weeks first put the kindling on the fire for Devendra Banhart and a host of others. At this point, the Vashti Bunyan album has been reissued numerous times on every format imaginable, and you can once again go into a used record shop and walk out with an original copy of The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter for less than $10.
Enter Lisa O Piu, the band led by Swedish singer-songwriter Lisa Isaksson (who has collaborated with Roger Wootton of Comus) and produced by Matthias Gustavsson of the heavily-hyped psych revivalists Dungen. My feelings about both Dungen and Lisa O Piu can be summed up exactly the same way: It’s technically competent but utterly unispired music by people who don’t have much going for, them aside from their good taste in music that came out three or more decades ago. The two most obvious points of reference for Lisa O Piu’s music are probably Linda Perhacs—whose spacey multi-tracked vocal harmonies echo throughout this disc—and Joanna Newsom. When This Was The Future boasts the sweet, slick cutesy-ness of Newsom’s Ys, minus the good songwriting and Van Dyke Parks arrangements.
Theoretically it shouldn’t matter when an album comes out; good music is always timeless. But a middling, unabashedly retro album like When This Was The Future would have sounded better, if only temporarily, back when people couldn’t get enough of this kind of stuff. There was a time when the indiputably Perhacs-ian chorus on the opening “Cinnamon Sea” (“Cinnamon taste in everything you make / and parallel systems in everything we think”) might have sounded clever, even refreshing. But today the path seems more than a little well-trod.