Mi and L'au
Here’s a press release and a few reviews below from when Mi and L’au were released on Young God Records in 2005 – Michael Gira/Young God Records 2008
We have recently finished recording an album by Mi and L'au here in Brooklyn. I co-produced it with them. It turned out very lovely indeed. It was a privilege to work with such talented, sincere, and intensely focused individuals. They have a quite passion that is expressed both in the way they are as human beings and in their songs. The music is austere, but simultaneously warm. Picture a glacier with a red ember glowing in its center. Mi and L'au met in Paris a few years back. Mi is Finnish and was working as a model to make ends meet and L'au (who's French) was working in the music industry (soundtracks, I think). They fell deeply and immediately in love, and after a short period of moving from apartment to apartment in Paris, they gave everything up and decided to move to the woods in Finland, so they could be alone together in peace and to spend their time discovering each other and their music.
They live in a small cabin in complete isolation with the barest of essentials and they spend virtually all their time making music together in solitude. They are pure and gentle souls (Devendra's song, from Oh Me Oh MY... "Gentle Soul" was written for L'au the two had met in Paris when Devendra was wandering there, and L'au took him in, and they also made music together). Their music is bare, delicate, and made with simple instrumentation - voice, acoustic guitars, and other very sparse orchestrations. I wouldn't say it compares at all to the current crop of neo-hippy "weird folk" etc. though. It has the naked quality of certain early Nico recordings, or Chet Baker (I don't mean there's a stylistic similarity by any means - just a sense of space)...soulful and elegant, without being touchy-feely or confessional. Their music reminds me of how one might imagine a winter Finnish landscape - haunting and pure.
These recordings were made with love in Mi and L'au's cabin in Finland and then overdubs were made in the wilds of Brooklyn by themselves as well as the ubiquitous Akron/Family, Julia Kent (Antony and the Johnsons), Paul Cantelon, Jerome O'Brien and others. Overdubs were made at Seizure's Palace (Angels of Light. Devendra Banhart, Akron/Family) and mixed at Trout recording by Bryce Goggin (Phish. Pavement, Lemonheads, Angels of Light, Akron/Family etc.).
THANKS! - Michael Gira/Young God Records 2005
A few reviews below (for complete press CLICK HERE):
Alex V. Cook, Music Editor
TRY A LITTLE TENDERNESS
The gentle acoustic guitar and light harmonies are akin to watching a candle flicker
I find that tenderness often goes underestimated in this world. We try to channel our wolf nature to accomplish things, believing that its our howl and gnash that get business done in this world, but truly, it is the meek that inherit the earth. Wolves , without fail square off against each other and while the melee has its fireworks and sexiness, you end up with 1 2 dead wolves. The real power is wielded by those that keep it in check, their resolve quiet but unflinching, requiring no sense of combat or bombast to accomplish a goal. They aren¹t fighting the thunderstorms, they are talking to he wind, and in the long run, they will get a better return on investment. Its this quiet resolve that attracts me to spooky delicate acoustic music.its parts are immediately recognizable, its structure ofter pared down to the minimum , making every element crucial. And I¹m not talking Belle and Sebastian mellow here, I¹m talking the spook folk of Will Oldham and Current 93 and Ben Chasny and now a new couple of forest dwellers Mi and L¹au. She (Mi, Finnish) and and he (L¹au, French) met in Paris where she worked as a model, he a soundtrack musician, did the bohemian flat-hopping thing and then bolstered by the warmth of their love made off to a cabin in the frozen woods of Finland, and their music reflects this spares essentiality. The music supporting their small voices consists of carefully picked guitar and the occasional mandolin. They trade off vocals, with Mi¹s whisper and L¹au¹s clipped delivery making you listen closer, as if a ghost is telling you a secret.
The opening track ³They Marry² picks and ticks like a clock, detailing the cycle of lover between lovers, with a feathery dizzying merry-go-round twinkle and swoon supporting it, while a later song actually title ³Merry Go Round² sounds as if the contraption of the opening number has been drugged and is slowly winding itself into hibernation. Its heavenly stuff, the slow orbits it creates. Its in the sparser tracks like ³Philosopher² however, where the real magic lies. The gentle acoustic guitar and light harmonies are akin to watching a candle flicker. ³I¹ve Been watching You² with its slow Nick Drake fingerpicked development shows the group to have a sinister side amongst all this sylvan filigree. ³Burns² which highlights Mi¹s voice the best, offers a solution for all those soft voiced women who are looking to sound powerful but end up sounding cutesy. He vocal style is almost like a bamboo flute, simple but direct, cutting though the various ambiance that has been attached to the recording. ³Older² languidly rolls out like a Quaalude sunset, while the string laden ³A Word in Your Belly² has the deep grandeur of a John Adams or Arvo Part string piece, no doubt coming from L¹au¹s experience scoring for films. The way slight rain drops or something like that sound like they are falling on the strings themselves is just sublime.
This album is rife with twists and turns, toy pianos and zithers and who knows what else crop up here and there, but its in the voice and the palpable connection between the two that centers this most gentle and elegant of records. It reminds me of the earlier Damon and Naomi albums or maybe Dome (I think that¹s what it was called, one of those lesser known Mute groups that only resurfaced in compilation albums) but with a decided hermetic cast about it. Like This Mortal Coil and Dead Can Dance with none of the bombast and twice the embers. Like the moon reflected off a frozen lank. Like a tree swaying in the wind. Like two people in love. it is sweet deep stuff that yields ever unfolding rewards as your spend time with it.
That is the power of tenderness.
Music Review | Mi and L'au
Songs Born in a Cabin
By LAURA SINAGRA
Published: January 16, 2006
When it comes to a musical persona, "modern-day Adam and Eve" isn't a bad choice. If any duo can pull it off, it's the quiescent Mi and L'au. As their lore has it, the former model Mira Romantschuk, who is Finnish, and the French soundtrack musician Laurent Leclère fell in love in Paris a few years back, then moved to a woodland cabin outside Helsinki, where for four years they lived simply, writing spare songs that do more with space and silence than with notes and words.
Existing in the same universe as the neo-folker Devendra Banhart, whom Mr. Leclère befriended in the 1990's, they engage an idea of "North" in ways that connect them with the whispery Canadian singer Julie Doiron and even Sigur Ros of Iceland. But rather than Sigur Ros's grandiose snowy expanses, the landscape these two explore is the space between them, knowable yet unknowable in its dimensions.
On any given evening, Ludlow Street on the Lower East Side is thronged with beautiful people. But weaving through the Christmas-lighted Cake Shop on Friday, the pale and waifish Mi and the dark, beatific L'au looked like particularly exquisite works of art - tall and pipe-cleaner thin, pointy boots poking from jeans worn the way designers only dream they'll be. Sitting close on wooden chairs on the tiny stage with their identical blond acoustic guitars, they played 12 of the hundreds of songs they've amassed while living, as the soft-spoken L'au smilingly mumbled, "with the bears and salmon." Three were from their self-titled debut album released in the United States on Young God records. These they played without the sonic augmentation provided on the record by their label's owner, Michael Gira (former leader of the Swans), as well as by musicians from Akron/Family and others.
L'au, about whom Mr. Banhart wrote "Gentle Soul," makes up for his rather nondescript voice with his guitar facility. His assured low pulses and fingerpicked interludes keep things from slipping too far into conceptual ice-floe slowness. On songs like "Philosopher," which muses on the connection between walking and lucid thinking, the pair display their sense of humor. Potentially cloying lines like "I welcome you nude," from the esoteric but sensual waltz "Nude," are balanced by piquant ones, like the contingent request, "Wash your complaints."
Mi, who spoke six languages when she met L'au but added French for his sake, was the one whose singing hushed the club's chatter. As her long, honeysuckle hair fell forward over her Kelly-green blouse, her haunting tone infused "Robot" with a post-Edenic dread. In "Paranoid," she adopted the voice of an officious customs agent, asking, "What do you declare?" and "What is your crime?," answering back, as herself, "Paranoia." Her lovely, droning "Creation" compelled rapt attention even though few understood the Swedish lyrics comparing committed love to a silkworm's generative process. She performed the show's encore, "The Cat," while L'au sipped wine and relaxed to the left of the stage. The song, with its entreaty, "We must remember nature," no doubt prompted collective cosmopolitan fantasies of getting back to the garden.
Young God Records | YG31 | Digital