Mi and LÂ’au | Review
TRY A LITTLE TENDERNESS
TRY A LITTLE TENDERNESS
The gentle acoustic guitar and light harmonies are akin to watching a candle flicker
Mi and LÂ’au
Mi and LÂ’au (Young God Records)
I find that tenderness often goes underestimated in this world. We try to channel our wolf nature to accomplish things, believing that itÂ’s 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 or 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 arenÂ’t fighting the thunderstorms, they are talking to he wind, and in the long run, they will get a better return on investment. ItÂ’s this quiet resolve that attracts me to spooky delicate acoustic music. It's parts are immediately recognizable, it's structure ofter pared down to the minimum , making every element crucial. And IÂ’m not talking Belle and Sebastian mellow here, IÂ’m talking the spook folk of Will Oldham and Current 93 and Ben Chasny and now a new couple of forest dwellers Mi and LÂ’au. She (Mi, Finnish) and and he (Â‘Â¹au, 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 sparse essentiality. The music supporting their small voices consists of carefully picked guitar and the occasional mandolin. They trade off vocals, with MiÂ’s whisper and LÂ’auÂ’s clipped delivery making you listen closer, as if a ghost is telling you a secret. The opening track Â“They MarryÂ” 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 Â“Merry Go RoundÂ” sounds as if the contraption of the opening number has been drugged and is slowly winding itself into hibernation. ItÂ’s heavenly stuff, the slow orbits it creates. ItÂ’s in the sparser tracks like Â“PhilosopherÂ” however, where the real magic lies. The gentle acoustic guitar and light harmonies are akin to watching a candle flicker. Â“IÂ’ve Been watching YouÂ” with its slow Nick Drake fingerpicked development shows the group to have a sinister side amongst all this sylvan filigree. Â“BurnsÂ” which highlights MiÂ’s voice the best, offers a solution for all those soft voiced women who are looking to sound powerful but end up sounding cutesy. Her vocal style is almost like a bamboo flute, simple but direct, cutting though the various ambiance that has been attached to the recording. Â“OlderÂ” languidly rolls out like a Quaalude sunset, while the string laden Â“A Word in Your MouthÂ” has the deep grandeur of a John Adams or Arvo Part string piece, no doubt coming from LÂ’auÂ’s 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 thatÂ’s 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 lake. 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.