While listening to Ellen Allien's LISm, it helps to realize that the project that spawned it was inspired by elliptical writing, cut-up cinema, and other art forms where deconstruction is another means of creation. A single 45-minute track commissioned for a French dance production that spans experimental guitar rock, moody synth passages, and the crisp techno on which she cut her teeth, LISm shares a similarly fractured yet oddly cohesive feel (and must have given the dancers lots to interpret). Over the course of her career, Allien has traveled from style to style, and in some ways this album feels like a microcosm of that approach. Despite the number of sounds and moods she touches on, LISm hangs together because of her restraint; it doesn't overwhelm listeners with dense sonics or abrupt changes. Refrains like "falling," "dreaming of you," and "conscience" help shape the piece as it unfolds with dreamlike clarity, culminating with percolating beats evocative of Allien's early days. While it's easy for listeners to feel at sea occasionally during LISm minus the visuals the dancers would have provided, this suite is hypnotic and at times transporting, offering more proof that Allien is a more unpredictable talent than might have been expected. Berlinette fans may not find a lot to grab onto here, but the graceful way she explores different directions on LISm will impress fans of her more abstract side.
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