Album of the Day: TOKiMONSTA, “Lune Rouge”
By Ian Hsieh · October 17, 2017 Merch for this release:
Compact Disc (CD), Vinyl LP

When Jennifer Lee, aka TOKiMONSTA, was recording her new album, none of her fans knew the trauma she’d just survived. In 2015, the producer discovered she had moyamoya, a rare brain disease that could statistically kill her at any time. Two emergency surgeries saved her life, but the disease still took a toll. Lee was rendered speechless, unable to comprehend what others were saying, unable to walk, and, perhaps worse, unable to make music. But the L.A. native battled through to recovery, and her fifth studio album, Lune Rouge, is the result of her experiences.

Opening with the sprawling, orchestral “Lune,” the LP has a serenity not present in Lee’s earlier works. “Bibimbap” fuses airy vocals, the gayageum (a traditional Korean string instrument), and Lee’s beloved synthesized chords, while “Early To Dawn,” which features the honeyed vocals of Selah Sue, is a standout, full of gorgeous harmonies and reverb. It’s the TOKiMONSTA we caught a slight glimpse of in previous projects like You’re Invited (Gavin Turek’s TOKi-produced mini-LP) and Desiderium, but here, Lee has fully embraced her predilection for spacey, romantic music.

That’s not to say Lune Rouge is without its heavier moments. Bashment-trap-future-beats hybrid “Thief,” featuring SAINTS, boasts the beatmaker’s signature bounce, and “I Wish I Could,” also featuring Selah Sue, is classic TOKiMONSTA through and through. But it’s in the more pensive, hopeful moments that Lune Rouge really soars. It feels more unified than her previous records. Quietly content and confident in its introspection, it’s music for the soul.

—Ian Hsieh

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