Of The Week - 4 Stars
her sultry vocal delivery
set against a cinematic musical backdrop, Inga Liljestrom
effortlessly takes jazz syncopations and marries them with
the racier elements of pure electro to create what is one
of the finest local releases of the year. Liljestrom's breathy
tone is the catalyst to the expansive nature of Elk.
It's lush and atmospheric, dripping with melancholy but never
weighed down by its emotive delivery. The opening track 'Film
Noir', is the standout - the layered production the perfect
foil for Liljestrom's descriptive lyrics. But really the album
is consistently good across all twelve tracks, suggesting
that we have a new star within our midst."
[Zolton Zavos, The Brag Magazine]
"Brilliant composing, unbelievable string arrangements...
Inga's emotional voice shines on the new movie-like album
[From Finland's Trip
beautifully layered atmospheric pop album....
She manges to balance her dark and emotive songwriting with
an orchestral depth, with neither dominating the other...
In a league of her own..." 5/5
[Hamish Ta-Mé, Crema Magazine]
makes utterly gorgeous electronic music. The aptly
titled opener Film Noir sees her lovely vocal competing for
attention with some strings that resemble those on Bjork's
Vespertine. Lira sees her singing to a trip hoppy backing.
It sounds a lot like the aforementioned Icelandic star. The
acoustic All of This adds a nice folky touch to the record.
The bare accompaniment brings out the best in Liljestrom's
voice. Diamond Horseshoe is like a torch song for the modern
era with some flawless singing and a nice whistled bit. This
record is fabulous and Inga Liljestrom deserves to be heard
[Anna Maria Stjärnell, Collected
"Sydney-based Inga beat London-based Goldfrapp
to this noir-shrouded matinee romanticism by several years,
and so it is chronologically incorrect to compare her to the
more well-known act. Earlier trailblazers were Marianne Faithfull
with (more barbed, austere) Brecht forays, and Kate Bush with
the darker side of her wuthering heights. The first two tracks
are alluring, candlelit songs with the chorus quite clearly
signposted, and so shouldn't end up in the too-hard basket
at FM radio. At core, this is swathes of moonlit texture sometimes
propelled by machine pulse drums and acoustic bass, rippled
with thematic strings and chimed by slide guitar, over which
Inga whispers, croons and intones lyrics that are a collision
of ethereal and existential. Crushed roses and drawn velvet
curtains melancholia, but in the worthy cause of risque
passion. Just when you think it's a bit staged, a trifle mannered,
and could she conjure this atmos in a stripped unplugged environment,
she does just that. On the stark 'All Of This', with a sprinkling
of acoustic guitar, and later on '29 Poisons' with picked
jazzy guitar, and over shimmering tremolo guitar in the first
verse of 'Bullet', an exquisite portrayal of unrequited yearn;
and the closing track, 'Stolen', an eerie eclipse of sun-warmed
strings over frozen emotions. A record that unravels slowly
but is instantly inviting and intriguing, and should bring
this singer a wider international audience."
[Lesley Sly, Sound & Image Magazine]
a track record for sterling vocal
contributions on albums for groups and artists such as ENS,
Friendly and Gerling, Inga Liljestrom has a lengthy resume
and she refocuses her efforts on the creation of this solo
recording. This refocusing has produced some powerful, emotive
results... The dreamy qualities of 'Lira' for instance create
a mightily seductive musical world with rich colour and texture.
Equally 'Deer' featuring some gently floating loops and hypnotic
harp work from Clare Cooper, evokes a strong sense of cinematic
English, Time-Off Magazine]
singer-songwriter Inga Liljestrom
wears her influence on her sleeve: " Imagine Bjork, Portishead,
Lamb & Goldfrapp all bleeding from the same lips," proclaims
the sticker on the cover of her CD, Elk. Inadvertent menstrual
images to one side, this accurately sums up the music Liljestrom
draws on and aspires to; Bjork's sudden divergences, Portishead's
moodiness, Goldfrapp's vocal styling, and Lamb's jittery,
broken beats. There's no doubt Liljestrom's ambition. Like
Bjork at her genre-bending best, Liljestrom tries to unite
disparate elements into something fresh and new. Swooping
orchestral fragments are spliced to jagged beats, and soundtracky
atmospherics are wedded to a witchy aesthetic. The results
are mixed, but always interesting. Triple J listeners will
have heard Liljestrom's first single, Phoenix, a rich, dramatic
song. Cello, honeyed vocals, and odd Twilight Zone background
effects create a layered, attention-grabbing four minutes.
This is Liljestrom at her best, and it's tantalising.
... Vivid and inventive...
[Simon Williamson, Beat Magazine]
Liljestrom's ... release, Elk,
is about as far as possible from the sound of the Australian
summer we're about to enter. Although Liljeström is a
native, musically she is somewhere north of Norway. A fog
of ominous strings swirls around fractured electronic beats,
jazz-tempered double bass glides below like dark shapes under
an ice floe and voices echo sonar-like from afar. On top of
it all is one of the most arresting voices I've heard in a
long time. Comparisons with Bjork are inevitable, but inadequate;
Liljestrom's voice does recall her fragility and other-worldliness
but is richer and more sensual - imagine Martina Topley-Bird
fronting Portishead. The clue to the mood here is in the first
song's title: Film Noir. There's a prevailing darkness
in the songs, tempered by impressionistic lyrics of love and
longing and the shaft of light from the single, Phoenix.
The sound is lush and three-dimensional - musical cinema.
Elk is un-Australian (in the best possible way), but
one of the most exciting releases of the year."
[David Curry, The Canberra Times]
"From the first sigh of the violins that open this
mesmerizing album, you will be trapped and enchanted by Elk.
Inga Liljeström attracts comparisons to Portishead, Björk,
Lamb, Goldfrapp, Beth Orton; all are warranted. Her talent
is immense. From the delicate, fragile and otherworldly poetry
of her lyrics, to her ghostly, sensual voice, to the skillful
and evocative arranging, Liljeström displays an imagination
and inspiration that sees her take Elk to soaring heights
and sultry depths. Phoenix is dazzling: cello and violins
arcing over industrial sighs and breathy silences, all held
together by Inga's astounding voice, gracefully reaching clear
highs and husky lows. Your skin will quiver and your heart
will rise with the soaring chorus: it is an incredibly beautiful
song. Liljeström has worked with an array of musicians,
combining an orchestral element with the wonders of electronic
sounds. Stunningly mastered, Elk is as clear and crisp as
a sharp wind through forest, without sacrificing any mystery
or atmosphere. It is not surprising to learn Liljeström
has worked as a cinema composer. Her songs have a rich visual
element, and are extremely evocative. Liljeström has
worked in the Australian music scene for many years: with
Elk she is bound to receive the critical acclaim and public
appreciation she richly deserves."
may not have heard of Australian
singer/composer/arranger Inga Liljestrom, but you have probably
heard her vocals on Gerling's Dust Me Selecta. She has also
worked with other Australian dance acts but when it comes
to her own music, it couldn't be further away from that style.
Welcome to Elk. Right from the sticker on the album cover
you are advised of comparisons to Bjork, Portishead, Lamb
and Goldfrapp and these are not unfounded, however, I also
detect a kinship with Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan and Moloko
(at least vocally). If this isn't enough, the record company
press release suggests further musical benchmarks (Marianne
Faithful, Dead Can Dance, David Lynch film scores) and although
there are reminiscent elements at work here they are simply
doorways in to her music which demonstrates vast talent and
originality. The music on Elk consists of impressive and complex
arrangements, rich with dark orchestral flourishes that suggest
film composers such as Ennio Morricone, Angelo Badalamenti
and Bernard Herrmann (it comes as little surprise to learn
that Liljestrom is also a film composer). Although her style
is cinematic and opulent it is also beautifully restrained.
Orchestras swell and drop away completely, fragmented beats
are mixed in as needed and as quickly torn out of the mix.
She organically melds the orchestral elements with her less-is-more
approach making for engaging listening. The complexities of
the music are fascinating and deserve an instrumental companion
album. It takes a while to warm to the breathy intensity of
Liljestrom's voice yet it suits the delirious soundtrack perfectly.
She cleverly balances the drama of tracks such as Phoenix
(the first single) and Knotted (should be the second single)
against minimal acoustic songs such as 29 Poisons and All
Of This. Elk is an intriguing and impressive work that grows
with every listen, Liljestrom a talent to watch.
[Wayne Davidson - Inpress Magazine]
"Elk is a sublime concoction of equal parts
atmosphere and musicality. Drenched in a narcotic otherworldliness,
it's as much an interior journey to the deepest extremes of
Inga's musical well - a sort of seductive one-on-one with
an inspired mind - as it is an exploration of outdoorsy soundscapes,
from widescreen cinematic title sequences, to broad sweeps
of upland tundra. Through it all, for all its uber-modern
beats and trip-hoppy motifs, there's a balancing earthiness,
a handmade, almost folk-like simplicity that is completely
satisfying. She creates sparse, restrained elegance and ecstatic
climaxes with equal facility, often in juxtaposition and always
dovetailing moods and sounds with savvy ease. Taken as a whole,
the 12 songs are like weather stations in a sea of emotion,
to chart a course thru shifting moods and dreamscapes. Elk
is many-layered and simple at the same time, impressionistic
resonances and overtones as important as the detail. That
unique voice of Liljestrom is what brings it all together.
Blessed with a fragile/strong feel that can whisper intimacies
even when filling the soundscape with primal cries, it's a
voice that focuses listeners and draws them in. Perhaps the
company she keeps is a pointer to adequately describing Liljestrom's
style. Lloyd Swanton and Cameron Undy play acoustic basses
(indeed if Swanton's The Necks added vocals the result might
feel something like parts of this album) and guitarists Tim
Rollinson, and Michael Lira, co-arranger Haydn Walker and
co-producer Liberty Kerr all represent a substantial musicalness
missing on too many contemporary (read fashionable) albums.
Sophisticated string arrangements by Inga and others (real
strings, even a real harp, no synthesized doodlings here)
add filigree touches, never clichéd or pompous. Solo
guitar accompaniment contrasts with lush booming voicings.
And on it goes, all of it good. That Elk is a (largely) self-penned
debut is quite astounding. Liljestrom's been compared to the
likes of Goldfrapp, Portishead and Bjork, but though these
might be touchstones, they're only references. Inga Liljestrom
has something sensual and artistic all her own. Highly recommended.
[Perry Kilmer, Drum Media Magazine]
"Inga Liljestrom's voice tickles angels' ears...
Whether it's flirting with string crescendos that bound over
the subtlest electronic programming (Film Noir) or
delivering haunted folk over lonely guitar (All Of This),
her sultry voice of yesteryear is the mesmerising centerpiece.
It slides from dark grooves to delicate whispers, turning
simple poetry into the ultimate dark romantic soundtrack.
From the subtle manipulation of Knotted to the delayed
echoes of Lira, this jazz-trained Sydney singer raises
[Chloe Sasson, Metro Sydney Morning
"...What a triumph! ...This... is just something
... A long player... of timeless beauty [that] proves Liljeström
as a talent who could well stand proudly next to a Lou
Rhodes or similarly 'difficult' (in the pop sense) chanteuse.
The instrumentation on the album is phenomenal thanks to the
likes of Cam 'The Chameleon' Undy and a host of others like
Tim Rollinson, Sloth and Haydn Walker. Has anyone noticed
how the phrase 'it's good for Australian' is now redundant?"
[DJ Huwston, 3D
CD Of The Week
debut album from Inga Liljestrom
is set to blow a lot of people away; dripping in emotion it
is nothing short of magic. Liljestrom has a voice that is
very rich in texture and that wouldn't seem out of place with
Lou Rhodes or Beth Gibbons. Backed by an amazing band, the
album shows the depth and maturity that well seasoned muscians
are capable of. The album will etch itself on your soul and
leave you falling in a dream world created by poetic, but
very audible, lyrics. There is not a bad or below-par track
on this album, each track fitting with each other perfectly.
Phoenix is the stand out track; imagine being tossed
around by a storm of strings, bass and drums, all held together
by a voice that expresses so much with so little effort. Inga's
voice is a fresh sound that is crying to be heard; this ablum
will not disappoint."
[Benjamin Chinnock, The Brag Magazine]
It was the furthest thing from my mind as Elk slid from my
hands, through my hi-fi, into my conscience. Hypnotically
fading in from black with Film Noir, the opening track, Inga
Liljeström sets the scene for the next one hour using the
language of film and Latin dance. Sydney-based Inga Liljeström
might be familiar as the guest vocalist on innumerable records
from the likes of Gerling, Friendly, Itch-E & Scratch-E, Ens,
and d.i.g. But Liljeström is more than a jobbing session vocalist,
having now written and programmed two albums. With her production
skills she is certainly updating the term "singer-songwriter"
for the 21st century. As the textures and pulses of trip-hop
envelop the soundscape, the comparisons to the voice of Björk,
the lo-fi musings of Portishead, and the lush cinematic washes
of Goldfrapp's debut album are inevitable. But while Goldfrapp
have moved towards a more pumpin' synth-based sound with their
latest album, Liljeström makes use of the six-piece band
that she has assembled. The picked guitar arpeggio in All
Of This is arresting in its simplicity, and already feels
like I've known it a lifetime. Liljeström's caressing
delivery here tells a story more powerfully than the lyric
itself. One of the most engaging and evocative tracks is Diamond
Horseshoe, reigniting the flame of old Hollywood music
that has long since faded from our screens. Very convincing
as the theme to a lost James Bond film, the addition of Peter
Miller's forlorn whistling again recalls a certain duo from
Bath, England. Shifting film genres to perhaps the introspective
Western, 29 Poisons opens on a Spanish guitar melody
that is bathed in the aesthetics of both Morricone and Villa-Lobos.
Liljeström's voice again adapts to a track that takes
its cues from another interesting source. There's a range
of other songs waiting to discovered on this album. Phoenix,
currently on Triple J rotation, is an excursion into electronica
where programmed beats and reversed samples are rounded off
with double bass. Lira is also captivating with its
magical rhythm and intriguing samples. A very diverse album
that is sure to sound and feel different on multiple listenings.
Just let your mood guide the way."
can take her latest album Medulla and shove it.
After worshipping the Icelandic vocal goddess for years, we
need a new one. Enter home grown talent Inga Liljestrom. The
songstress has the same breathless angst but without the abrasiveness.
Elk's cinematic swoon will have you dancing in the dark and
taking seductive bites from peaches, it's so sensual..."
Liljestrom is Australia's new, brilliant diva...
Her voice is strange and lovely, lilting and powerful. Her
sound is evocative, it sets you to thinking, to listening
to the voices in your head that remember, and wonder. She
is also a wonderful arranger, programmer, composer and listener.
If you pay very careful attention to her music, you can see
that she has been listening, to that which is around her,
to those strange notes that the night provides us all. But
mostly you come back to that amazing voice. Comparisons have
been made to Bjork or Lamb, but I say think Ricki Lee Jones
if she studied Ella Fitzgerald. She is breathy and dynamic,
using her pipes as a tool, as the instrument that they are.
Maybe even more of the vitality of Janis Joplin, the emotional
[Epinions Site - Read the full, extensive
(The Studio, Sydney Opera House with Ursula Rucker)
"The best thing I have seen all year"
"Inga Liljestrom [is] a singer I had been trying to catch
properly for quite a while.
Caught her briefly singing for local electro/house act Ollo,
then again only a fragment of her performance at Cockatoo
Island. Opening with a solo, slow and mournfully wailing electric
guitar against her unique voice, it shut the crowd up quick
smart. Other people on stage played violin, cello, double
bass, drum kit, trumpet, keys and other technologies, and
some other brass instrument.....A mesmerizing performance,
and something pretty special that possibly wouldn't work in
typical live music venues because she casts a spell that is
powerfully enchanting yet I imagine could easily be broken
by drunken yobs talking too loudly at the back. Playing at
a space like the Studio with a projector screen behind the
stage displaying some new gothic/film noir footage is just
about the perfect way to experience this. The easiest/laziest
comparison to make for the sound of Inga Liljestrom would
be the sound of Lamb when they are at their most emotionally
intense, lots of strings and not much electronics, a strong
focus on the vocals. The music may build up to a giant wall
of noise, but it's never fast or with an electronic beat like
a trip-hop/dance cross-over some may describe Lamb to be.
Left the crowd gobsmacked... Inga Liljestrom stole
the show." [FullReview]
2007, The Vanguard, Sydney)
have a confession to make.
I used Inga Liljestrom to further my romantic life. Perhaps
it was her lush jazz-tinged voice that did it, as it swirled
daintily amongst the chord of a double bass. Perhaps it was
her mystique of her songs, flowing from her body with the
aches and sighs of an impassioned woman. Whatever it was had
me quickly running to the corridor between songs to send off
a text message to an unsuspecting acquaintance, my mind helpless
with longing and desire. This was not my first Inga Liljestrom
concert - indeed, this was the third time I had seen her perform
at The Vanguard in recent years - nor was it the first time
her music had had this effect. Always been one of Australia's
great unappreciated musical acts, she is a hark back to
the glory days of Portishead and other late-night modern
greats, but possessing an earthy soul. There is a track from
her... album Elk with the title Film Noir - a description
the accurately sums up her musical essence. More an aural
soundscape that a standard pop singer, she constructs songs
of light and shadow; of mystery and revelation. 'Tori Amos
meets Emily the Strange' summed up my concert-going companion,
aptly. Playing songs from her small but satisfying collection
of albums, she showed her musical diversity: bringing out
a ukulele one moment, and frequently - and somewhat inexplicably
- singing into a large red telephone. While Liljestrom writes
poetically and evocatively, it was ultimately her voice -
especially in the intimate live setting of the Vanguard -
that captivated. From a throaty growl, her jazz vibrato
crawled upwards and ultimately shimmered into the air
with a whisper. A whisp of black smoke perhaps, seen and then
gone. While it would be fantastic to see Inga Liljestrom eventually
gain the wider recognition she deserves, there is something
magical about seeing her in these intimate settings. The
Newtown-going crowd certainly agreed, eventually filling every
available seat and standing room, begging for an encore
- yearning for just that tiny bit more. Yearning for that
final taste of our desire-inducing little secret.
[Blake Burger, SameSame.com.au]
"There are many whispers and a
sense of anticipation as Inga Liljestrom's band - the bassist,
double bass player, violinist, cello player and the effects
and soundscape DJ take the stage. Inga appears barefooted,
wearing a hippyish style sparkly red dress and half of her
long wavy hair tied into a small bun. The double bass solely
begins playing, and Inga starts weaving her magic, confidently
beginning their performance tonight by singing All of This.
By midway through the first song, I know that this is going
to be one of the best performances I have ever seen in my
life. I try to hold back tears of overwhelming joy as Inga
begins exquisitely and softly moving about on stage. Her graceful
body and celestial voice weave in and out of the music, she
uses her delicate hands to express the dynamics of her voice,
and she is completely at one with her fellow, extremely talented
and illuminating band members. It is an amazing sight to behold
such a passionate and elegant lady, so entranced, and moved
by her band's brilliantly composed sounds. Amongst the array
of songs Inga perform tonight include Phoenix, Glow, Stardust,
29 Poisons, Bullet and Deer. Each song is as brilliantly
executed as the next, the alluring melodies flowing and
cascading down onto and amongst each other, as if each rhythm,
melody, lyric and soundscape is all the ingredients of a hypnotising
potion, gradually filling up and up until it beings flowing
over the edges whilst Inga's seductive and enchanting vocals
literally soar vocally and emotionally to places I have never
experienced via music before. I really never want this
show to end, and for the first time I take my eyes away
from Inga and her band to witness the audience's reaction
and response, and I can see every single eye completely in
awe, transfixed by the divine beauty occurring before us all.
Sadly, the show has to end and a distinct feeling of pleasure,
privilege and pure delight of being able to experience
something as special, rare and magical
as this show manifests in the room."
Liljestrom... kicked off with a great soulful trip hop vocal
The band accompanying Inga was amazing and consisted of some
very talented musicians on guitar, drums, two on strings and
a double bass. The general sound was great live and was given
further depth by the excellent use of effects (even on the
drums) which worked very well in combination with Inga's powerful
voice. The tracks ranged from very vocal focussed to really
rocking trip hop tracks which conveyed a lot of energy and
emotion. Some of the audience members even got up and partook
in a little bit of a dance throughout some of the tracks.
Overall, it was a fantastic performance" [InThe
OTHER PEOPLE HAVE SAID ABOUT INGA:
a breathy, soulful voice
that shivers with its emotive delivery, Inga Liljestrom
is a world-class talent. Her debut album, Elk, is startlingly
original, a subtle mix of beats and vocal electro, excuted
with the sort of daring panache one would expect from a trained
jazz musician. ...Her... music is compositionally progressive
yet loyal to traditional instruentation, the subtle beats
meshing with delicate strings and horns to create a lush sound
that flies in the face of the minimalist obsession."
[Zolton Zavos, Yen Magazine]
dry as the breaking of insect wings ..."
Designer of The
The Final Cut]
[her] lilting voice is both as playful as Björk's
and bewitching as Nico's... "
[Luke McIlVern, Daily Telegraph]
echoes of Dead Can Dance and Marianne Faithfull..."
[Lesley Sly, Panorama Inflight Mag/Rolling
f##ked up, extremely original and dazzling piece
of music that outshines the latest offerings from Bristol".
[ Pete Rivett-Carnac of Single Gun Theory]
Century film-noir for the ears"
[Tim Ritchie, Radio National]
Liljeström : ELK
imagine BJöRK, PORTISHEAD, LAMB + GOLFRAPP
all bleeding from the same lips
is an illuminating new journey from singer/songwriter Inga
Liljeström. Her unique vocal tones have graced recordings
from Gerling (hit single Dust Me Selecta),
Hi-Fi Mike, Friendly, d.i.g. (Curveystrasse),
Itch-e & Scratch-e, Alien Headspace, ENS
and many others - but now the most distinctive voice floating
above Australia's musical landscape delivers her first commercially
available, full-length solo album. Sure to have you gasping
for air, Inga wrote, programmed and arranged these lush tracks
over a two year period, crafting a beautifully cohesive, yet
darkly fragile work of immense proportions. That otherworldly
quality fans have always associated with Inga, reaches new
heights as her stunning lyrical images find wings to soar
in a fresh band-setting where talented players provide live
strings, contrabass, Moricone-esque guitar, fluglehorn/trumpet,
keyboards, samples and fractured beats. To say the result
is cinematic, is an exercise in understatement.
With an aesthetic that is uniquely subversive and beguiling,
Inga Liljeström weaves strangely mysterious and
evocative tales that are both hauntingly film-noir and emotionally
twisted. It's as if DAVID LYNCH's films finally have
a musically parallel universe. Fragility, melancholy, altruistic
love and broken-ness are feelings we've all experienced, but
like the most intuitive film directors, Inga turns these raw
states into something artistic, compelling, challenging and
exploratory. One minute she has you hanging over a Mediterranean
edge in a sportscar where the motor's still purring with electronic
beats, while the next you're shivering between towering icicles
where the harmonics of orchestrated strings seem to threaten
an emotional avalanche.
After studying jazz improvisation, Inga Liljeström
has developed a voice that is arguably the most unique in
Australia. With vast experience as both vocalist and cinema
composer (including Australian feature films Angst
and Sample People), Inga alchemises the last
decade's experiences into the highly charged new album ELK.
Gathering a talented ensemble of musicians to fully realise
her wide-screen compositions, ELK features; renowned
jazz player Cameron Undy on bass /samples; horn/keys/gadget
man Sloth (Meta Bass 'n' Breath/ Martini
Club); guitarist Haydn Walker (The Pedestrians/Meta
Bass); drummer Michael Iveson (Upshot);
Michael Lira (Vicious Hairy Mary); Jacob
Cook (beats); violinist Veronique Serret (Coda);
plus other guests like Lloyd Swanton (The Necks),
Paul Searles (Skunkhour) & Tim Rollinson
For LIVE performances of ELK, Inga combines the mysteries
of electronics and evocative visual images, with a six piece
band who bring the amazing music to life. Earlier this year,
Inga showcased this new album with some sneak previews of
the band at Candy's Apartment and French styled nightclub
The Vanguard in Sydney, to spirited responses. Inga has also
performed for television on Rove and at large scale
festivals such as Big Day Out, Adelaide Fringe, Homebake
and many more.
The first single taken from ELK is PHOENIX
- a tangle of Inga's inimitable imagery, beats, electronics,
strings and a soaring chorus.
Inga Liljeström on-line at her own site: IngaLiljeström.com