Sunday, July 18th
Don't miss it!
Here's what we said about Lau Nau's two albums for the Locust label, Kuutarha and Nukkuu:
Ahh, Finland. We've said that before. Now perhaps people in Finland think about California the way we think about Finland. But of course they'd be wrong. We don't have any analog to Moomins trolling about in our forests. Whereas our fantasies about that far-off land are quite accurate. At least, judging by the ongoing gurgle of cd-rs and tapes and cds and such flowing from their fertile "free-folk" underground, from Kemialliset Ystavat to Avarus to Kiila. And recordings like Lau Nau's Kuutarha just make our fantasies of Finland more and more vivid and otherworldly. Lau Nau is Laura Naukkarinen and a few friends. She's a very lovely singer, a member of Kiila, Paivansade, and Anaksimandros. Here her melodic Finnish-language vocals are set to droneily folkish backing, making for quitely distorted lullabies. Finnophiles will agree that this could also definitely be compared to Islaja, but perhaps rawer, more broken down and abstract. And to make a Finland-California comparison, well, this could basically be a Finnish version of Jewelled Antler's Franciscan Hobbies, with Laura Naukkarien's vocals. So very very nice. (Hmm, which came first? Jewelled Antler or the these Finnish forest folk folks? Doesn't matter, it's the zeitgeist we guess!)
For some reason, we like to look at the list of instruments and non-instruments used on records like these, maybe you do to, so here goes: acoustic bass, bass recorder, five-stringed kantele, acoustic guitar, tenor recorder, violin, bamboo flute, colorful juice glasses, mortar, mandolin, witch laugh megaphone, baby's rattle, bike bells, banjo, cowbells, electric guitar, organ, willow whistle, tablas, percussion, cymbals, comb, beer cans, tamboura...
Lau Nau's Nukuu walks an incredibly fine line between the expansive forms and consistent density and texture of drone music, while also hiding within that density many structural shifts more akin to folk music. Watching her music vibrate between these two poles is the main attraction on this record, but remarkably, she finds an incredible amount of detail and freedom to explore between them. The songs often anchor in centrifugal clusters of tone and texture, looping and feasting on themselves, while occasionally a lyrical vocal passage, or a particularly noteworthy electronic or acoustic phrase will emerge to a more singular position in the mix. Other songs however, are less roiling and give the listener the opportunity to bask in the delicacy and winsome precision in Lau's voice, sometimes creaky and childlike, other times whispered and ghostly. Lau's decisions regarding the modalities and textures of her instrumentation, as well as the cadences of her lyrics, sung in Suomi, all reflect Finland's liminal position between the influences of Europe and Asia. That said, given her lo-fi recording approach at times, she can sound eerily similar to some of the '78s we've been graced with in the past year from Dust-to-Digital's Victrola Favorites and Black Mirror collections. The obvious comparisons to Islaja and Kuupuu, her collaborators in Hertta Lussu Assa, yields Lau a more innocent, gentle, and dare we say motherly distinction, as opposed to the bewitching dark humor of the other two. Without indulging her biography too much, it is worth noting Lau gave birth to a son in the interim since her last album. Apparently much of the record was written while her child was sleeping, and so too it is titled, "sleeps." Naturally it follows that there are a few lullabies in the mix, but there is also a keen sense of independence, as though these songs are about digesting much more than motherhood, a feet in itself. Like another Scandinavian luminary on this list, El Perro Del Mar, Lau butts up against an almost hymnal like intimacy at times, though her work is naturally more feral, and less controlled and crystalline. Fans of all things Finnish will obviously be pleased, but those who've enjoyed Natural Snow Buildings, acts from the Dronevolk compilation, and even Valet will also find themselves gently coaxed into a similar but challenging musical terrain. All told, atmospheric and entrancing, subtle and intelligent, composed and vulnerable, Nukkuu comes highly recommended.