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Pop / Netherlands (Amsterdam)




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PJ Harvey, Jane Weaver, Chairlift, Poliça

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Alternative pop, Sadwave

" An oasis of calm amid the rage of everyday life "

There’s a lot of mystery around Luwten, the creative conduit for Amsterdam native Tessa Douwstra. She’s an artist who prefers her music to do the talking, leaving it to the listener to unpack its secrets and meaning. And there’s a lot to digest on her self-titled debut album, a collaboration with percussionist and producer Frank Wienk that was released last year. A two-year exploration of sounds and moods that eventually resulted in dark, sparse compositions, the music drifting glacially, propelled by just a few, stylish elements.

“Space is the place”, she says, the project being driven by “the desire to create something that didn’t exist yesterday.” She’s certainly succeeded on that front — Luwten is a captivating listen that’s in turn hypnotic, in turn graceful, a slow-burn collection of songs that reward repeated listening. As a composer, she’s bold, punctuating songs with spaces and letting her voice simply hang in the air. Witness “Difference”, where her paper-light vocals swim over barely there synths; or the woozy, foreboding “Pinball”, underpinned by a stuttering beat and unsettling clangs.

It’s unusual that such a long period of experimentation has led to such lean, pared down songs, but this is what makes them so alluring. Douwstra has worked out exactly what she wants to say and distilled the message, and the music, down to its essence. To escape into Lutwen is to discover a head-clearing tranquility, a contemplative space away from the daily grind — and Lord knows, we could all use a little of that these days.