Lau Nau is Laura Naukkarinen, an incredibly gifted young woman
from Finalnd, and Kuutarha is her debut solo record. She
is a member of some pretty fantastic groups such as Päivänsäde,
the Anaksimandros, and Kiila. Her style is an intriguing mélange
of folk, free and ethnic musics. I imagine that most or all of
the album was recorded outdoors in her garden...it's doused in
a pleasant fragrance of cassette hiss and a distinctively pastoral
Finnish air. At times, I am reminded of an olden, Secret Museum
of Mankind feel. To lend a helping hand on a few songs are her
friends Pekko Kappi (Päivänsäde), Tomas Regan (Avarus),
and partner Antti Tolvi (Rauhan Orkesteri, Lauhkeat Lampaat, Päivänsäde).
Kuutarha is thoroughly engaging, and there's quite a bundle
of smile-inducing (not in a comedic way, rather a "wow, this
is really amazing" kind of way) moments within
The power of the parched, slowly rising ur-drone in "Pläkkikanteletar."
The dictaphone-recorded loose jam session that turns into an American
Primitive comedown in "Johdattaja-Joleen." Lau's expressive
charm at the end of "Tuulka," stark against the outside
night amongst the frogs calling in the distance. The way her multi-tracked
vocal blurs together atop a passionately plucked riff in "Kuula."
The beautiful rendition of a Nepalese traditional song. The percussion/bird
duet in "Sammiolimnut." The morning raga in the scene-setting
"Jos minulla olisi." The longing of "Hunnun."
The utter joy of "Puuportti rautaportilta." The musicianship
is that of sentience, and Lau's voice is what takes it a step
further. One part kitten, another part fairy, Lau soulfully coos
and purrs her lullabys, nestled inside the ears.
Lau and friends use an impressive collection of noise making things:
acoustic bass, bass recorder, acoustic guitar, chimes, banjo,
flutes, tenor recorder, violin, bamboo flute, mandolin, baby's
rattle, bike bells, cowbells, tambura, electric guitar, organ,
willow whistle, tablas, percussion, cymbals, comb, kantele and
jouhikko (both traditional Finnish instruments), and my personal
favorites...witch-laugh megaphone, mortar, beer cans and colorful
juice glasses! Kuutarha is intimate, heartfelt, and so,
so lovely. [DD]