O YAMA O
Cafe Oto, London
2 October 2015
In Finland, winter is coming. The days are already fading and leaves falling. Soon, the snow will arrive and the lakes will freeze over. When the Sun peers over the horizon, it will keep low, casting long shadows among the forests of birch and pine. New tones will be added to the sonic palette: the drone of wind brushing through frozen branches; the echoes of ice crystals falling to the ground. What would be the sound of your feelings during those months?
Lau Nau offers an answer to that question. Helsinki-born Laura Naukkarinen’s music is a deeply connected response to the land she inhabits and the people she shares it with; both appreciative and nurturing. Lau Nau’s transcendent settings of traditional Finnish songs and shamanic original material have led some to style it as acid folk, but in places the songs could be described as magical humanism – a musical counterpart to Italo Calvino’s less mathematical musings, perhaps – or soul music for the Boreal forest.
Lau Nau performs two sets at Cafe Oto, starting with a solo show. Her guitar and a Korg keyboard provide accompaniment, but this event is all about her voice. Loops are generated on the fly, generating ethereal harmonies which swirl around Naukkarinen’s lead. The material stretches from her first album, Kuutarha, to her current release, the soundtrack to Hem. Någonstans [EN: Home. Somewhere]. Horses run home and the touchiness of lovers is lamented, but attempts to keep up with the lyrics and identify the songs are overtaken by enchantment with her vocals. The cinematic sweep of this dreamscape covers a lot of ground, but it is anchored by a powerfully feminine touch.
A second set brings Lau Nau together with the evening’s first act, O Yama O, an experimental music project. The programme’s dialectic is resolved with a skilled improvisation that sees Naukkarinen echo Keiko Yamamoto’s calls, while Rie Nakajima tinkers with an adapted dinner service and guest artist Billy Steiger plucks sounds from his violin. The introduction of Lau Nau to the group opens up the spaces surrounding each sound, allowing them to expand, and at the end the silence stretches into the night.
Lau Nau’s official Web site: [ot-link url=”http://www.launau.com”]www.launau.com[/ot-link]