Mi and L'au | Review
The profound duet knits around a sparse backing of mandolin
November 22, 2005
The tender world built up around this duo, which is a very personal world and consequentially the best sort of world after all goddammit, is entirely charming and entirely impenetrable. The record they offer presents just about no real sense into that world. Perhaps the envy struck up by that ambient fence explains the appeal of their music. Oh, but envy is strange word indeed to tack on. The impressions conjured by Mi and LÂ’au are far from particularly ideal, less a brown/grey melancholic tint strikes you to a euphoric state. Yet they do hint at something private, magnificent, and pleasing dearly enough to draw up a most emerald flush.
Oddly, considering the color of their record, the duo met in Paris and fell tremendously in love before absconding to a wood-hidden cabin in MiÂ’s native Finland to live singularly, follow their passion, and make music. That music remains the product of their coupling alone. The austere songcraft and the airs-our-guts-alone-can-make production understandably points only back to them. Almost to spite the obvious assumptions, the music has little to do with tradition or lineage Finnish, folk, free, or otherwise. Traces of Nick Drake and the reaching back in time from the bedroom to get free English folk revival can be found in askance tones in LÂ’auÂ’s singing or MiÂ’s pristinely plain delivery, but those emotional cues leave the only spare strings to tie to a grander context for this record offers songs from knotted hearts and few feet to scrape for ground in broader, deeper waters.
Â“They MarryÂ” opens with alight tea light tones and Canterbury flair aided by Akron/Family. The celebration is quickly left behind as Mi steps into an open field of moonlight to savor the need to be rapt in the arms of her lover. Â“HowÂ” continues the search for support by begging answers to one of the most personal and unsolved quandaries over a tinkling stream (which does quite well as a stand-in for a worry known too well to star under its own billing). The teardrop xylophones return on Â“PhilosopherÂ” and throughout the album to voice that same sense of doubt.
The tracks lead by L'au offer a sturdier hand. They fail, perhaps to provide needed answers, but they offer a noble intention. Â“IÂ’ve Been Watching YouÂ” rides in to ride the town of chaos, but remains limited by the singerÂ’s humanity and Â“A World in Your BellyÂ” offers a sobering pride in the chance of things yet to come. LÂ’auÂ’s voice is plain and importantly, structurally full, yet far from a brutish, masculine cut-out. The timbre can not wholly mask inner insecurities, and overall the tone stands as one of the more honest role-models heard on record. In fact both MI and LÂ’au sing seemingly straight from themselves. They sing strictly straight from the slightly up and down swings known quite as integral to human life -- as a rule Â– and too often too shined or scuffed by other products for pastimes.
Â“Merry Go RoundÂ” sounds of the common ground founded only when intertwined hearts seek to seal a fracture. The profound duet knits around a sparse backing of mandolin, hopeful guitar notes and rooting bass to cozy the deep person nearly impossible to fully or safely warm against an alien world.
Plainly profound as Mi and LÂ’au is, the loving embossment and embellishment added by Angels of Light, Devendra Banhart, Antony, and others adorn the correctly candid songs and allow them to shine as icons rather than subjugate through illustration. Simply, these songs suggest a look at love as it is often felt, a fire of hearth and homelessness. Simply, these songs salve a lesion inherent and universal.