Mi and L'au | Review
These songs are like haiku
These songs are like haiku: minimal and perfectly framed by silence. They were made by a couple in love -- a Finnish model and a French musician. Mi and L'au met in Paris, where they befriended an impoverished Devendra Banhart (he dedicated Oh Me Oh My's "Gentle Soul" to them), then moved to an isolated cabin in Finland, where they wrote and recorded these fragile songs. As you listen, you'll imagine snow-laden eaves and stone fireplaces, fur-lined parkas and knitted gloves, and bright-orange sunsets viewed over the rims of mugs of tea. There's a deep quiet here that has long been associated with snow -- you can hear it in every pause and breath. You can
also hear the sound of two people in tune with each other, their voices brushing each other like hands in "Nude", their tranquil guitars and percussive accents leaving space in the sound for each other.
Mi, the girl, is the most striking singer: her pure soprano is like an ice-skimmed pond, all crystal surface and mysterious depths. Her "Boxer" arises out of only breath, languid guitars filling in the crevices in her whisper-sung verses. It sounds as if she's singing for herself, or for a child not quite born; the pauses are almost as meaningful as the words and notes. A crescendo of instruments -- guitar, bass and low-noted piano -- gathers as she sings the song's high, dramatic ending. It somehow builds in intensity without ever accumulating much volume.
Lau sings less frequently, and with more orchestral decoration, as on the synth and string-swept "A Word in Your Belly", but he is wholly natural, right there on this recording as if he'd materialized in your ear. The pair of them are entwined on "Bums", a glancing melody wrapped in a metaphor about love and dreams and indigence. It ends incongruously in the hiss of machinery. Found sounds appear in closer "Study", as well, as bubbling water plays tag with blues slides in the song's background.
These songs seem slight and fleeting at first -- wisps rather than fully formed compositions. Over time, however, they gain a dreamy certainty that's built into the silences between notes as much as the melodies themselves.