When the original partnership of Ryan Lum and Suzanne Perry in Love Spirals Downwards dissolved, the result was a new romantic and musical union between Lum and singer/multi-instrumentalist Anji Bee. With the band slightly renamed to indicate the difference between the new directions the duo explored, the first effort from the two was the excellent Windblown Kiss. Advantageously, it isn't a radical departure from Lum's earlier work — this isn't Mojave 3 as different from Slowdive, say — but instead a fascinating and beautiful new path that draws from his past without repeating it. It's evident not merely in his own playing — he's just as apt to explore moody blues licks and acoustic flamenco and bossa nova lines, as well as his trademark digital delay lushness — but the range of the songs as a whole. Bee's singing is key here — instead of the angelic bliss-out of Perry, her approach blends that touch with a subtly sassier tang, reflecting her love for singers like Billie Holiday. Indeed, much of the album feels like a performance at a very classy (but not dull) late-night establishment, with subtle grooves and the sense of passionate love suffusing the air. That she can manage a wonderfully romantic Spanish-language song "Dejame," with appropriately delicate Latin pop arrangements, not to mention equally fine singing elsewhere in German and French, as well as a cover of an obscurity by America, "You Girl," gives a good sense of her abilities. With fine guest work from Doron Orenstein on saxophone and, in two excellent duets with Bee, "How the Thieves Ride" and "You Are the Gun," Eden's Sean Bowley on both vocals and guitar, Windblown Kiss adds up as an enveloping, invigorating listen that avoids any easy goth tag to find its own darkly passionate medium. - Ned Raggett
What's in a name-change? Just by dropping the ballast of "downwards" from the previous moniker, Lovespirals drifts upward into the light (and surprisingly "straight") musical forms which float like a Windblown Kiss
. Rather than prior scenes of swirly guitartronic etherality, Ryan Lum with new vocalist, Anji Bee, spin up sweet, bouncy, loungey songs which shift between various flavors of exotica, often with nostalgic airs.
On sinuous sax riffs (courtesy of Doron Orenstein), noir-lite atmospheres seep into the urban nightscape of "Oh So Long" mingling with seductive vocalizations and soulful guitar licks. In Spanish-flavored "Dejame," words melt into the music; this phenomena is more appreciated in tunes like "He Calls Me" whose girly-sweet lyrics aren't my cup of tea. I don't know a bossa from a nova, but I think I feel them both shimmying through the sultry nocturnal tempo of "Our Nights". The strummy pop ballad loveliness of "You Girl" could be a Jewel song, with its soft, sentimentality and quite "standard" delivery of such. Anji's crooning tops neo-western-folk "How the Thieves Ride," but guest-guitarist Sean Bowley's voice takes the stage of this dusty-yet-polished lament, adorned with appropriately lonesome plucks. Cool! Similarly-styled (and voiced) "You are the Girl" follows.
Sparkling with jangles, amiably sorrowful "Swollen Sea" crests on the rise-and-fall of Bee's layered timbres. A final 60s-ish lounge-and-sax vibe, "I Can't See You" seeps into silence which eventually leads to an unexpected display of (sorry to spoil the secret of the secret track, but...) faded old-time bluesiness!?! Lovespirals soars on Darkwave's lightest mists, arising with only a few shadows tainting the warmth and intimacy of Windblown Kiss. So nicely done I don't much flinch at the "normalcy" as it's obscured by lush artistry and sensuality. B+ - David J Opdyke
A review from Ectophile's Guide to Good Music:
Ryan Lum’s Love Spirals Downwards has come a long way from its ethereal gothic roots. Gone are Suzanne Perry’s wafting vocal glossolalia, the dark Cure-meets-Siouxsie basslines, and the Robin Guthrie guitar atmospherics. They have been replaced by the smooth-as-silk vocals of Anji Bee; the mysterious Eastern-flavor by dashes of flamenco, lounge, jazz and Brazilian pop, and even -- gasp -- mainstream pop. Of course, this transformation has been a long time coming. Lum has always pushed the envelope in atmospheric music, assimilating electronica, drums and bass along side such core foundations as folk and shoegazer into the mix. The last LSD album, Flux, was a successful mix of Massive Attack-style songs and gentle breakbeats, not unlike those heard on the Six Degrees label. This new incarnation, though, seems to model itself after the sophisticated pop of Everything But the Girl, once and for all ditching the Cocteau Twins blueprint that has dogged the band since its humble beginnings.
Opener "Oh So Long," with its late-night sax and Bee’s torchy vocal is as far from a Projekt-sound as you can imagine. It’s not until "He Calls Me" comes on that you recognize some of Lum’s mainstays; shimmering guitars, an uncomplicated melody, and sweet female harmonies. Bee’s touch, in addition to her voice, are lyrics that avoid Perry’s obscurantist bent. "He Calls Me" is about as mystical as it gets. The thematic blending of the divine and the sexual recalls Lamb’s "Gabriel." "Windblown Kiss," and the cover of the America song "You Girl," flirt with - but never become - innocuous soft rock; interesting chord structures and complex harmonies forestall this. The conga-driven "Our Nights" is frothy and light like a frozen daiquiri, with bluesy guitar fills. Astrid Gilberto and the Captain and Tenille come to mind. It has the breezy feel of a tropical classic. Two songs are collaborations with Eden’s Sean Bowley: "How the Thieves Ride," and "You are the Gun." With Bowley’s Peter Murphy-meets Brendan Perry baritone and ponderous folk balladry, they are out of place on this collection. Good songs, but they break up the flow. A nod to the old LSD is present in the dulcimer-driven nocturnal "Swollen Sea," with Bee sounding her most Perry-like. With its slick production, and pleasant sounds, Windblown Kiss mostly succeeds in creating a moody make-out album. - Craig Gidney
Ex-Love Spirals Downwards guy Ryan Lum has started another goth-ish project and named it so as to not confuse anyone. That’s okay, I suppose, because he certainly brought all his talents with him. From guitar to bass to programming to dulcimer, he pretty much covers all the ground here. The gothic past of Lum resurfaces with those airy, sparkling guitars that fans of the Cocteau Twins will relish. Ethereal/ambient goth music is one of my favourite things, and this duo (Lum and vocalist/songwriter Anji Bee) captures the nuances of the genre while putting their own signature on it. Lum’s guitars are the driving force here, as he flips easily between electric and acoustic, classical, Latin, and goth/folk styles. Bee’s vocals are gentle and understated, but it would have been more memorable to hear her out of her comfort zone, just belting it out once or twice. I do like the jazzy edge she shows in some tracks, giving the disc that lazy, “stay in bed until three” kind of feel (see final track “I Can’t See You”). Gothic jazz? Hell, why not? Sean Bowley (of goth rock band and Projekt label-mates Eden) offers vocals and guitar on two songs, providing variety, if nothing else, but not necessarily for the better; his rich voice sort of squashes hers. Turn the volume up and keep a listen at the end for the curious hidden blues track, complete with slide guitar, kazoo and all the grittiness of a ’50s Chicago blues recording. - Coreen Wolanski
4 Stars | Fans of Love Spirals Downward, Portishead, and PJ Harvey will find Windblown Kiss most captivating. Lovespirals, building upon Love Spirals Downward fame, (one of the 2 best-selling artists on Projekt), unleashes new vocalist Anji Bee into a 10-pack of jazzy, soulful, narrative songs. A special, delightful surprise comes in "Dejame", sung entirely in Spanish (english translation provided in lyrics sheet). "Dejame" begins by asking "who are we, where are we going, why are we as we are?" An exploration indicative of many songs on this album. Doron Orenstein provides mournful, provocative sax playing on this track as well as "Oh So Long", and "I Can't See You". Lilting dreamscapes romanticize tributes to a spiritual bonding. Windblown Kiss is the very first NEW album produced by Ryan Lum (multi-instrumentalist and the driving force behind LSD) since the best selling LSD album Flux, released in 1998. Sean Bowley (EDEN) makes a very special guest appearance on Windblown Kiss, performing acoustic guitar and additional vocals on two tracks, "How The Thieves Ride", and "You Are The Gun". Lovespirals, in support of Windblown Kiss, recently gave a rare live performance at Projektfest 2002 in Philadelphia, and then kicked off a US West Coast tour with fellow Projekt label-mates, Mira.- Jett Black
I've been waiting for this release for a long time and it's been well worth the wait. I, like other fans of Love Spirals Downwards wasn't sure of what to expect with this release. I had heard a little bit about it and had a listen of "Dejame" early on before the release. Also being a fan of Julee Cruise and hearing that similarity, I knew I was going to enjoy this album. Combining so many instruments, different guitars, various styles including Flamenco, Jazz and a bit of Ethereal, everything comes together almost perfectly. The beginning track "Oh so long" really sets the somewhat melancholic yet jazzy mood for the album. The follow-up track "Dejame" is my favorite from this work of art. The Spanish lyrics are pensive and Anji's vocals are beautiful and thought-provoking. There are some upbeat tracks that have an overall happy mood to them such as "He Calls Me". The same variations and combinations of instruments in just a happier, jazzier style. "Windblown Kiss" is probably the track that can most closely be compared to the more Gothic Ethereal style with the acoustic elements and the overall dreamy feeling you get while listening to it, another favorite of mine.
Some other great points about this album are the additions of saxophone by Doron Orenstein. Also, the addition of male vocals by Sean Bowley on several tracks. There are other contributions by these artists and others with the entire production, including mastering by Robert Rich. Such a combination of musical styles and instruments along with the talents of this duo is just outright innovative and enjoyable. I think a wide audience will really enjoy this album. I give it a 4 1/2 out of 5 rating, not quite perfect more for my own tastes than for any flaws in the music. - Jacob Bogedahl
A strange blend of diverse cultural influences, Windblown Kiss is an eclectic collection of gothic-flavored world music, featuring vocals from Anji Bee and the songwriting and instrumentation of Ryan Lum. At their best moments, Lovespirals manage to blend world music with jazz, folk and goth into an entirely unique hybrid. In particular, the opening track “Oh So Long” and the Spanish ballad “Dejame,” deliver an intense blend of longing and sorrow. It is in the earlier portion of the album that Lum’s jazz influence is most evident, creating an intricate and involving sound, with excellent saxophone provided by Doron Orenstein. My personal favorite song, “He Calls Me,” is a hypnotically melodic story of channeling, presented as both a spiritual and romantic experience. Equally lovely are “Our Nights,” “Swollen Sea,” and “You Girl,” which find the duo solidly in dream-pop territory. Overall, the album is engaging and successful in creating a dark and dreamy mood. Anji Bee handles both lead and backing vocals with equal grace, displaying excellent range and control. Lum’s songwriting continues to improve, making this release perhaps his most impressive to date, and his guitar work is precise and crisp throughout. More importantly, the musical chemistry between the artists is obvious, more so than in Lum’s previous work with Suzanne Perry in Love Spirals Downwards. Spanning four languages, more than a dozen instruments, and too many cultures to count, Windblown Kiss is a definite must-have for fans of Love Spirals Downwards, other Projekt releases, and world music. - Zach Rawlins
The first word that comes to mind on hearing Lovespirals' Windblown Kiss is sultry. Singer Anji Bee has a seductive coo in her full-bodied voice that immediately catches the ear and stirs the blood; instrumentalist Ryan Lum knows exactly how to frame it with lush guitars, tasteful keyboards and rhythms that draw from jazz and bossa nova as much as rock and pop. An outgrowth of the Gothic dreampop band, Love Spirals Downwards, Lovespirals cast aside much of the previous incarnation's psychedelic gloom while retaining its romantic angst. The airy arrangements and acoustic guitars put a new spin on the kind of emotional claustrophobia at which LSD was so adept. "And it's oh so long to wait/I lack the patience/Give me strength" Bee sighs in "Oh So Long" as she waits to be reunited with her lover; "Swollen Sea" and "I Can't See You" also look for beauty in the pain of lost love. But Bee and Lum don't forget joy: "Our Nights," "He Calls Me" (which adds an overt spiritual dimension to the proceedings) and the title tune celebrate love instead of dreading it. Interestingly, Lum and Bee invite guitarist/songwriter Sean Bowley from Eden to contribute vocals and lyrics to two cuts; the results are strong Gothic folk/pop songs, but they don't fit with the rest of the record. Still, those songs don't detract from an otherwise consistently beautiful treatise on romantic expression. - Michael Toland
With a touch of soft blues, world music motifs, this entry into the smooth jazz category is a surefire hit and should appeal to a wide listening audience. The music is refreshingly original and likeable, enjoyable in all ways. The 10 selections include "Oh So Long," "Dejame," "Windblow Kiss," "Our Nights," "I Can't See You," among others. Ryan Lum is a master of guitar, his techniques fresh and pleasant, and the sensual vocals of Anji Bee perfectly reflect the high quality of the musical compositions. Windblown Kiss is a magical listening experience, and filled with sensitivity and beautiful soft jazz sounds. Lovespirals is topnotch. - Lee Prosser
Tasteful, seductive, and intriguingly mesmerizing, Lovespirals offers up a most eclectic smattering of jazzy musical beauty. Rivaling any current smooth jazz idol out there, this duo is sure to be heard by the jazz and easy listening mainstream before long, becoming a standard. There is something so comforting about this CD that just makes me want to melt into a chaise lounge in forested mountains or a tropical beach. Nice, nice, nice! - Phil Anderson
Lovespirals is the divine fruit from the joining of Ryan Lum and Anji Bee. Smooth and warm, this opus distinguishes itself by an infinite sensuality, musically as well as lyrically. Opening very gently with "Oh So Long," they create the atmosphere of a smoky jazz bar (we'd dream we're in David Lynch's Blue Velvet), and follow with "He Calls Me", a flawless summer ballad that gives us the urge to leave everything and take off. Spend a delicious bossa nova in Avalon with "Our Nights", enjoy a dazzling cover of America's "You Girl", and then the strongest moment of Windblown Kiss reveals itself: mysterious from the start, "How the Thieves Ride" is literally haunted by the tremolo assassin of Sean Bowley, a profound and grave adventure that prolongs itself with "You are the Gun". The fabulously rich scenery of Lovespirals explodes again with "Swollen Sea" and it's velvety soul of dulcimers. Windblown Kiss then comes to an end much as it began, with the jazzy and sensual "I Can't See You" brought to us with the bewitching saxophone of Doron Orenstein. - Frederic Cotton
I sometimes wonder where certain bands come from since much of what a band writes is influenced by their location. The Lovespirals has me stumped. “Windblown Kiss”, the band’s first full-length album, is a tasty piece of work which leaves one feeling relaxed and renewed almost like a night at the beach. The song-writing duo of Ryan Lum (who incidentally plays almost all of the instruments) and Anji Bee (vocalist) forms the basis of what’s known as Lovespirals. Mixing influences of, and I quote from their website, “...flamenco, be-bop, soul and folk...” the duo creates a latin-jazz feel which is topped off with the smoky voice Anji croons with. How will you know this album? You’ll know by its fresh, masterful musicianship like no other. Track 2, “Dejame”, showcases the ease at which the duo can play soft latin anthems with the intensity of the Gypsy Kings. “You Girl” will transport you from your room to the beach in the blink of an eye with its cool, windy wisps of music. I found their website at www.lovespirals.com and with it many songs, some news and a biography (more like a press release). It is worth the time spent to drop by and listen to some music which, I am convinced, will ultimately result in your buying the album. I am sure of it. - Creedle 110
A review from Montclair Times (NJ):
Anji Bee’s celestial vocals, blending with Ryan Lum’s soft, jazzy string arrangements, keyboard, sampling and congas, make up the band Lovespirals. Dreamy songs of love and spirituality are perfect for cool summer nights, watching gray clouds mingle with the sunset. “You Girl” goes in a more intense direction as Bee revs her leads up to pop speed and her backing vocals sensually hum along, occasionally showing off, yet keeping it sweet. Breaking up the pace, guest musician Sean Bowley lends his hearty masculine voice to songs “How the Thieves Ride” and “You Are The Gun,” making a perfect union for tender songstress Bee. “I Can’t See You,” could be one of those “last dance of the evening” lounge songs. The lyrics may say “no,” but Bee’s sex-kitten vocals say, “yes!” Especially when she sings the last verse in French.- Mary Anne Christiano
This album is most unexpected if you are a Love Spirals Downwards fan. Ryan Lum and company have changed directions (and changed the name of the band) from swirly ethereal pop to a jazzy lounge sound with sweet yet sultry singer, Anji Bee. It may not be something for the gothic ethereal set anymore, but nonetheless, it’s a soothing and soulful listen anyone could enjoy. - Mistress McCutchan
Ryan Lum, the mainstay of Lovespirals (formerly Love Spirals Downwards), is in complete control of this band and its direction. Having flitted in and out of several styles without losing its base sound, Lovespirals comes to an extravagant and pleasing approach in their newest offering, Windblown Kiss
. Suzanne Perry, the band's former chanteuse is missed but her disappearance is forgiven by the shockingly beautiful and sultry voice of Anji Bee. Windblown Kiss
is a satisfying surprise offering from a band that stands out in an ever burgeoning sea of bands for all its gorgeous song arrangements.
This release, like sugar on our tongues, is a sweet indulgence. Every song features the erotically charged vocals of Anji Bee and the slowly building tension of Ryan Lum's jazzed up and sexy instruments. From the flamenco tones of "Dejame" to the icy hot, night summer breezed, slow drip of "Our Nights". "Our Nights" is a remembrance piece, a nostalgic stroll through the countryside of our memories to times when love and infatuation meant a dreamy walk in the nightlights of Paris. "He Calls Me" recounts the absolute joy of love…how it clouds yet reveals the iridescence and glory of passion. "Swollen Sea" speaks of a love that is lost to an ever growing sea of lost loves, the shimmering sadness emanating likes heat waves from a boiling sun. The sheer magnitude of the solitary, after hours, soft push and plea to betrayed love that is "I Can't See You" with the saxophone giving voice, pleading, pleading to make the departure easier than it is. A better than five minute tune, it engulfs you into its soul and swallows you. But…if you hang on for several minutes of silence, you become refreshed with a bluesy, demo-like tune that merrily intones, "You got me feeling down, you got me feeling so blue".
The other songs are equally blessed and imbued with the engulfment of love and the sticky displeasure of separation. Ten songs in all with a bonus track buried deep in the afterglow of "I Can't See You". Wait a few minutes and it will show up. There are clearly several singles on this CD. My choice? The catchy and haunting "Our Nights". But "You Girl" and "Dejame" are blissful and are wonderful selections as well. The booklet, a tri-fold six-pager, with photos, notes, credits and lyrics is done well. The photos are perfect, the lyrics readable and the overall package a pleasant acquisition. The production on the CD is clear and well recorded.This album gives us the gift of remembering what once was good with love and anticipation. It encourages us and gives us hope that it can be that way again. I was swept away on echoed guitar notes, carried through the ether of love and hope, deposited into the womb of affection. And on that journey, I saw slightly swaying bodies, loosely holding onto their lovers; hearts joined to the timekeeping of drums until it was all the same beat. That is the impact of this CD, a soundtrack for what drives us to fall in love, what forms every lip to whisper, to moan. I cannot wait for the next contribution from Lovespirals.
Ryan and Anji...You Rule!! - Matthew Rowe.
If the name LoveSpirals sounds familiar, it should: it's the latest incarnation of the legendary and ethereal Love Spirals Downward. Anji Bee has the sweetest voice, and this album is a perfect showcase for it. Although Windblown Kiss has somewhat of a Latin influence that's new to this band, it's a nice change in direction that suits their basic sound quite well. "Our Nights" has a great rhythm that just made me wish I had my dancing partner with me. There's also a bit of a jazzy thing going on here: you can easily imagine a smoky club with Ms. Bee's honey-drenched vocals captivating the audience like a gothic Peggy Lee. Listen to "I Can't See You" and close your eyes. What do you see? The dulcimer in "Swollen Sea" only adds to the intensity of a woman using the metaphor of the sea to describe her lover's fear of their relationship. A light, uplifting, romantic and melodic album. Fantastic! (MSC)
Like its title, Windblown Kiss -- the debut CD from the California duo Lovespirals -- wafts from your speakers and caresses your ears with ethereal melodies, sexy voices and a timeless concoction of flamenco, bebop, soul, jazz, folk and rock. The brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Ryan Lum, the driving force behind the now-defunct ethereal folk band Love Spirals Downward, Lovespirals takes flight with the voice of singer/songwriter Anji Bee. Her delicately sensual and sometimes breathy vocals combine with Doron Orenstein's saxophone on opener "Oh So Long," which sets the tone for slowly smoldering romance. Other tracks feature acoustic guitarist Sean Bowley on lead vocals, who creates a much different soundscape than Bee with his Gordon Lightfoot-meets-Bono voice. In fact, the two songs he sings often make Lovespirals sound like another band entirely. Lovespirals is not a progressive rock band, but Lum's proficiency on instruments ranging from six- and 12-string guitars to congas and hammered dulcimer is greater than that of many of his counterparts in so-called "progressive" bands. Windblown Kiss takes some time to sink in, its subtle genius initially getting lost in the ambience. It's best to play this one alone at night, windows open with candles flickering, and let your spirit drift aimlessly into the darkness. - Michael Popke
It's no accident that the band's name sounds vaguely familiar -- Lovespirals features guitarist Ryan Lum, late of goth faves Love Spirals Downwards, teamed with vocalist/instrumentalist Anji Bee. The name change isn't gratuitous, either, for while Lum's LSD work thrived on ethereal gloominess, Windblown Kiss is going up, up, up. It's a languid, shimmering pop album -- yes, pop -- that's far better suited to breezy beach houses and billowing white linen curtains than introspective poetry and gothic architecture. Bee and Lum have distinguished themselves with a truly elegant work that belies their youthful looks. It's as polished and professional as most indiepop wants to be, and refreshingly free of the overwrought lyrical imagery favored by the doom and gloom set. Lum's guitar work (he's credited with an impressive array of six and 12-string instruments) is expressive and moving, while Bee's vocals -- in English, French, Spanish and German -- are distinctive without being showy. Eden's Sean Bowley adds additional guitar muscle, as well as Elvis-like male vocal counterpoints on a couple of tracks, and Doren Orenstein (Frecoe) provides a bit of sax, which contributes, for better or worse, to the disc's intermittent New Age vibe. There's a little loneliness ("Oh So Long") and darkness ("Swollen Sea") -- that's the stuff that sells, after all -- but it's balanced by the overall happiness of the music. And is it my imagination, or is "He Calls Me" pretty much a Christian rock (or at least deity-related-rock) song? All told, this is a satisfying, surprisingly upbeat effort that's likely to cause a fair amount of upheaval among LSD's fan base. Then again, perhaps the time is right for a romantic album that doesn't have a Romeo and Juliet ending. - George Zahora
A review from The Glass Eye:
Ryan Lum (aka Love Spirals Downward) has dropped 'Downward' from the name for this release. Now known as Love Spirals, Ryan has acquired the talented voice of Anji Bee, and with a few other guest artists, has taken a different path. Windblown Kiss is a departure from his last release Flux, which was layered with breaks and down-tempo beats. On Windblown Kiss, the beauty of Bee's voice sends each song swirling through the atmosphere, and Lum blends late night jazz, Latin, and folk into his songwriting, making this a hauntingly sublime release. I was taken aback when I first gave it a listen, but the more I've let it creep into my head the more it's grown within me. The songs that have stuck with me the most have been "You Girl," "How the Thieves Ride" (w/vocals by Sean Bowley of Eden), the cool jazz of "I Can't See You," and the title-track. And the little country/blues acoustic number hidden in the end is brilliant. - Patric!
A review from The Guardian (UK):
| 3 stars | People’s taste in music changes when the sun shines, writes Stuart Moses. When the days are warmer we need something more mellow to help pass the time. This is where Lovespirals come in with their mix of girly vocals, laidback guitar and blissed-out beats. And while "He Calls Me" is twee enough to be Natalie Imbruglia, the lyrics ‘People say I speak in tongues’ hints at a deeper message. Drawing inspiration from flamenco, bebop, soul, folk and the stacks of early vinyl they each grew up loving, Lovespirals are a Los Angeles band featuring producer/musician, Ryan Lum, with singer/songwriter, Anji Bee. Other musicians contribute and its the presence of one of these - Sean Bowley - that saves us from drowning in a sea of cuteness with his deep, country vocal that balances Anji’s sugary excesses perfectly. His presence on "Hot The Thieves Ride" and "You Are The Gun" are well worth a listen.