Mi and L'au | review | Nukapai

the music itself is the seed of an epic in the making

November 07, 2005 A little while ago, I requested an item for review from Blogcritics, a yet-to-be released music CD. I only had a small description to go by, but something about it grabbed me, so I grabbed it. Imagine my surprise, when it turned out that the CD was, in fact, a half Finnish production! I had obviously homed in on something. And strangely, in the music of Mi and L'au one can find a home, even if there is no Finnish in you. What does the ice-covered brook running through the dark thicket of a Finnish forest sound like at the depth of night when noone is near? What sound does the white ray of sun make when it cuts through the achingly blue sky? How will you whisper to your lover's ears inside a wooden cottage when the storm is beating at the doors? Enter into the world of Mi's soft voice and the instruments and guitar strings of L'au; picking his way through the melody as if slowly pacing on the hand woven rag-rug they are certain to have at home. L'au sings on some of the tracks too; his voice a little more pronounced, but still like covered in wool. Behind the music is a love story and in the music itself is the seed of an epic in the making. It needs to grow - this debut album is like the first breath of a child, but I am waiting for what will follow with trepidation. From the press release: 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. Mi and L'au remind me a little of another couple-based group: Lamb. Only Lamb has the added texture and the rhythm of a bustling city, where Mi and L'au use so much space in their musical Feng Shui that sometimes it's a little excessive and rather makes me think of a painter who has started working on details too early and is now afraid to take the bold strokes to make the work truly complete. On the other hand, some of the tracks are near perfection. A particular mood conveyed just so. Take How - the tempo drags its long arms on the ground, leaving trails in the snow. It feels like a testament to the Finnish tendency for deep depression. Finland has one of the highest rates of suicide in the world. The long, extremely cold winter and lack of light, coupled with genetic disposition for various self-destructive behaviours probably don't help this statistic. As a Finn, I find the idea of someone living - actually setting up home - in that remote cottage in the forest more than a little insane, if not impossible. If you think you've experienced isolation, trust me, you haven't, not until you've been to that cottage in, say, January. Everything miles and miles away. Pee freezing to your genitals before it manages to evacuate. The living-in-a-remote-Finnish-cottage could either be a stylised version of the truth (I don't know any Finn who doesn't winter at a flat or a house with central heating and triple-glazed windows: to do otherwise would be literally lethal), or perhaps they have a few more mod cons than the press release would have us believe. Nevertheless, I am sure this couple does live in isolated surroundings, because it shows through in their work. Just like writers are told "write about what you know", all creatives need to use resources from their environment in order to produce. In the case of Mi and L'au this is both a blessing and a curse. Much of the music sounds as if it is a part of something else; like a soundtrack. Highly visual (then again, all music is somewhat visual for me, but we know all about that already, so I won't go into it again). I happen to adore soundtracks for this reason. They really help me work on paintings and other things. I would love to illustrate to this music. Perhaps I'll try that one day. The pictures would be minimalist, composed, monochrome - with ever such a slight hint of a sinister, unhinged undertone and red-hot emotional charge, but buried so deep you're not sure if it's really there or if you're imagining it. Mi and L'au should take a few, long trips to bustling cities, or wild jungles. I think the results would produce recordings of such intoxicating beauty that simply everyone would want to hear. Let's hope. I found this debut CD to be like an appetizer for something great yet to come, but still good enough in its own right that I would have bought it anyway. It was particularly wonderful in the last two weeks when my life was chaos, stress and over-work; having this music in my headphones when working late eased the tension from my mind like a soothing balm. Mi and L'au (self titled) is released on 8th of November.