Letter To Yu by Bolis Pupul album review by Ethan Rebalkin for Northern Transmissions


Letter To Yu

Bolis Pupul

Bolis Pupul’s debut solo album , Letter To Yu, is a love-letter to his mother Yu Wei Wun, who passed away in 2008, and a striking experimentation of electronica, ambient, and synth-pop music.

“Letter To Yu” is the opening track, and perfectly sets the scene sonically and narratively for what we can expect from the album. “This is where you were born 59 years ago,” Pupul shares. In 2018 Pupul traveled to Hong Kong to find his mother’s birthplace, even writing a letter to her during his stay. This practice is what served as the catalyst for the album, and that catharsis can be found deeply ingrained in its roots. “Completely Half,” is a synth-pop head nodder, and tells a first hand account of Pupul’s experience exploring the streets of Hong Kong. He floats through a world of strangers, “faces I never knew,” and people “who look a lot like you.” During his visit to Hong Kong, Pupul used a field recorder to collect conversations, street reverberations, and train chatter. Prominent found audio can be found sitting below “Completely Half” and “Kowloon,” and really immerses you into Pupul’s nomadic world.

“Frogs” and “Doctor Says” both utilize intoxicatingly danceable rhythms. The heavy sub-bass and masterful use of Pupul’s drum machine are top class, and keeps you as engaged with the song as you are entranced by the ambience. “Spicy Crab” delivers more sputtering synth pads and arpeggios, similar to the ones you can find on “Causeway Bae” and “Kowloon.”

Letter To Yu becomes even more personal on the track “Ma Tau Wai Road,” where Pupul enlists the help of his sister Salah for a vocal performance that is truly gutting. “Ma Tau Wai Road” retells the feeling of visiting Hong Kong, and being able to feel the presence of their late mother. “Don’t know what I’m after / I’m lost in tears,” Salah Pupul sings. The song feels like you’re lost in a big city, endlessly roaming, searching for something but you aren’t sure what. “A touch of melancholy / a soft embrace.” Letter To Yu, may be shrouded by warm, danceable synth-pop, but there is no escaping the longing, and the grief that can be found unwinding across.

Modular synthesizers and ambient samples can be found parading on “Cantonese,” a song that Pupul sings in Cantonese. The song is gripping, and keeps you constantly engaged with a plethora of dynamic changes and beat switchups. “Cosmic Rendez-Vous” is perhaps the most subdued track on Letter To Yu. The soft embrace of the grand piano sits beautifully under an arrangement of soft synths and field recordings. It truly feels like the perfect walk out music for
an album that succeeds in melding melancholy with joyous electronica.

Order Letter To Yu by Bolis Pupul HERE


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