Mi and L'au | Review

The Wire | Nick Southgate

a pageant of slow motion carousel swirls

December 2005 

 If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it fall, does it make a sound? One is put in mind of this conundrum by the bare and stark songs of Mi and L'au. The pair live in total isolation in a forest in Finland, having retreated there from Paris, where they met and fell in love. These songs were crafted with only themselves as a possible and intended audience. This is the soft, sweet voice of hermetically bonded love's self sufficiency and solipsism. Michael Gira transported them to Brooklyn to record this album, but his production still captures the fragility of their arboreal retreat despite being executed in a concrete jungle.

Although Mi and L'au have found sanctuary in each other, many of the songs express doubts and confusions about the world they have left behind. On "How", Mi sings about "When I feel empty", while the delicate echo of a high piano note punctuates a slow, painful march of doubt and introspection. L'au leads "Merry Go Round", a limping song of regrets lost in the bottom of a glass. "Here's a bottle of wine," he sighs, and echoing single note electric guitar riff haunting the song and the merry-go-round of his memories.

Lighter and prettier moments are found with "They Marry", a pageant of slow motion carousel swirls and pizzicato arpeggios, the story of love's head over heels tumbles. Comparisons to Nick Drake are inevitable and "I've Been Watching You" has the fingerpicking and campfire timbre of Drake's Tanworth-In-Arden tapes. Not all the arrangements are stripped down. L'au has a background in soundtracks and lush orchestrations swell the tender "A Word In Your Belly" and gentle "Older" among others. In all cases though, it is the sense of perfect independence and strength of purpose in the voices of Mi and L'au that makes these songs so tender yet so tough.