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- Valohiukkanen by Lau Nau
9/10 Brian Staff review, 23 November 2012
This record is easily one of the most sublime releases I've had the pleasure of meeting through the long-running Finnish psych folk stable Fonal. What used to be a safe haven for experimental oddballs and kitchen sink-hurling hermits has unleashed something beautiful and extraordinary here. Laura Naukkarinen's previous outing, 'Nukkuu', I fell in love with immediately, it's one of the most strange and seductive outsider folk outings you'll hear, a dreamy intimate ramshackle concoction that I once took some naughty psychedelic drugs to before listening to it one night and was convinced she could telepathically register my appreciation across in the other corner of the continent and was returning ultra-sonic waves of loved-up bliss from her little woodland shack - there was something quite cosmic white-witch-like about the whole experience.
Now that baby bears little relation to her new seductive opus. Her sound has gone and become bright, hi-fidelity and widescreen. This is a great thing actually, in becoming more studio-savvy and accomplished in order to expand your horizons in this manner needs applauding. Naturally her sound-world still retains her folk roots but songs are now fleshed out, all spilling with an enigmatic grace and classy exotic wonder.
Beginning tenderly with the piano and feather-like soothing choral coos of 'Valolle', she overlays her sad-hued magic vocal, a pure dream-like thing indeed. There's some lovely rustic violin and cello flurries too. What a pretty start indeed! The beautiful cyclic acoustic picking of ‘Ystavani Nosferatu' has the chorus of fantasies and a violin that will bring tears to your ears. This song is an absolute diamond.
Then things get more raucous and bizarre by 'Kuoleman Tappajan' which opens with an electronic fuzz-burst and sports a galloping live 4/4, an ace electro synth-line and an urgent Euro-seductress vocal. This track is a proper funky, airy organic beast that would sound astonishing live I reckon. The tribal drums and wild electronics really blow the album wide open. It then descends head-first into a magical witchy glade of sweet furry organ and whirling outer-dimensional sanctuary.
More twinkly piano-led lullaby-esque beauty follows, then a strange backward-masked tape experiment which leads neatly into the bell orchestra and hypnotic chuffing of 'Valloittajan Laulu'. This track has some warm crashing sympathetic drums, a really tactile atmosphere you can virtually breathe and is the closest thing here to Wildbirds & Peacedrums or prime Bjork.
The album retains its super-impressive and quite delightful qualities throughout. 'Juokse Sina Humma' has some wild, chaotic screeing guitar abuse that reminds me of moments on the first Tindersticks album. It really amps up the breathless folksy gallop of the track. Easily a highlight on an album stuffed with such things! 'Paperthin' is sung in English and glows as a wistful Gothic folk ballad. It is divine and features a rippling gong so you cannot mess, even if you were enough of a miscreant to do so. 'Mirjam' takes form as a spectral piano ballad, all too brief and delectably sad. Concluding with a lo-fi piece that is most representative of her earlier material - you can hear the tape hiss and how tentative the playing is, like a broken music box coming creakily back to life in comparison to the rest of the album.
This is my personal AOTW in a week as strong as I can recall for a fair while, thank you Lau Nau!
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