Vancouver's Yu Su Makes IDM and Ambient Magic on Debut Album 'Yellow River Blue'

BY Daryl KeatingPublished Jan 27, 2021

Following a winter tour of mainland China in 2019, Vancouver-based, Kaifeng-born artist Yu Su decided to start a label and make an album. Yellow River Blue, named after the world's most heavily salted river, is an album of firsts: it's a debut LP for Yu Su and the inaugural release of her newly-founded bié Records.

As debuts go, this one is striking. It would be hard to believe that such depth could come from a first try, so it's no surprise to find that Yu Su has had a toe dipped in the proverbial salted river for a few years now. Fans of Vancouver's now-dormant 1080p label might recognize her skills from the You're Me project, which she co-wrote with Scott Johnson Gailey back in 2016.

As great as those releases were, Yu Su works even better on her own. Yellow River Blue is only eight tracks long, but within them lie myriad textures, moods, and techniques. And when we say within them, we don't just mean the album as a whole; there's a multitude of layers to every single track.

"Futuro" is a shapeshifting, eerie take on dub. It's only dub in the mildest sense, shown through Yu Su's thoroughly unique lens. It's a common theme that's found throughout Yellow River Blue, where she offers something almost familiar, but has refracted it just enough so that you're still not entirely sure what you're hearing. "Gleam," for example, has all the kicks and clicks of a techno track but then again it's oh-so-soft. Conversely, "Klein" plays like an astral nosedive into an ancient wormhole, and yet even an out-there song like that will have you bobbing before you're spat out the other side. 

In this sense, Yu Su is a true magician. Nothing is quite as it seems in her world. You may think you've gotten the lay of the land, but then the land morphs right in front of you, and all of a sudden you're lost, albeit happily lost.

Tying ambient soundscapes, borderline IDM and subtle snapshots of traditional music into a coherent, yet distinctive, body of work, this auspicious debut forecasts a promising future for Yu Su. Anyone would be happy to hop in a boat and sail these waters for hours and hours.
(bié / Music from Memory)

Latest Coverage