RUI HO Creates Ecstatic Electropop on 'Lov3 & L1ght'

Much of RUI HO's music has been centered around the complexity of personal journeys forward through space and life. On earlier EPs Becoming Is an Eventful Situation and In Pursuit of the Sun 逐日, the Berlin-based DJ drew on her experiences as a trans woman and an immigrant, building intense club pieces on laser-focused electronics and sharp beats. It's this history of frenetic mechanics that makes new full-length album Lov3 & L1ght feel so triumphant. Marked by moments of bliss, this installment is no less sonically intense than any of the artist's past installments. Still, it feels infinitely more ecstatic, a bright infusion of sugary electropop into the RUI HO catalog.

An atmospheric glow opens the album on "Hikari", bathing the listener in light before pulling back in favor of round, synthesized raindrops that leave space for the artist's first phrases as a singer. As a producer, she sculpts her sound, tuning it, merging it with pitch-shifting machinery in ways that take it to uncanny heights. She takes on the track with the emotional weight of a veteran cyborg balladeer, bringing it from its boundless, celestial start to a glorious, truthful end.

True joy, though, comes in the form of "Exodus '12", a clear reference to perennial Japanese pop goddess Utada's "Exodus '04". Like the latter, the former is an ode to breaking free from hometown to a wider world, with RUI HO cycling through verses to refrains of "Nothing can stop me / I'm getting on that plane / Watch me go for miles." The nostalgia of invoking Utada's iconic anthem of liberation in creating her own is a brilliant move on RUI HO's part; a crystalline melody makes the track truly transcendent.