‘Race The Loser’ from Lau - innovative, unpredictable yet traditionally rooted(October 31, 2012)
Some bands come with a pedigree as long as your arm – both as individuals and collectively - and folk trio Lau has a pedigree to envy. There’s also a distinction that identifies their music as soon as one of their albums opens. That recognition may metamorphose from time to time but it’s there all the same and that’s exactly what you get with ‘Race The Loser’. Together, Kris Drever (vocals, guitar) Martin Green (accordion) and Aidan O’Rourke (fiddle) create some of the most innovative, unpredictable yet traditionally rooted music currently coursing through the veins of folk.
Radiant musicianship, outstanding composition and self-determination to work virtuoso ideas into the mix, dexterous technology and ‘more than first expected’ pour into their brand of folk. Lau innovate with a capital ‘I’. The music ranges freely across ancient and contemporary folk through unrestrained jazz-tinged elements to electronic experimentation and sound loops – and on that journey Lau deliver something exceptional.
The tracks on ‘Race The Loser’ simply sparkle – each one holding a special position, each an idiosyncratic mood unto itself, each twisting and turning beneath Lau’s singular touch. The opening ‘Saint Monday’ is a mellow song that eases you unhurriedly into their multifaceted, intricate musical world. The switch to a mix of latent power and presence combined with contemplative meandering condenses in ‘Far From Portland’ and moves further towards the realms of ‘folk-electronica’ while ‘The Bird That Winds The Spring’ offers a stirring tune accompanied by a barrage of handclaps and Drever’s richly burred vocals.
Initially, there’s something sombre about ‘Save The Bees’ then its lingering intro slides into a tantalizing tune evoking the weaving, dodging flight of the bee – and again there’s the perfectly placed electronics. Then there’s ‘Torsa’ that steadily evolves to wind itself around a spiralling enthusiasm of typical Lau music that just begs you to sway into its embrace. There’s something of sadness about ‘Throwing Pennies’ as it stirs up a strange disquiet through its haunting melody and mournful lyrics.
Throughout ‘Race The Loser’ the instruments leap, dance and swirl around the tunes as they duel and dice with each other, sometimes taking unexpected jaunts in discrete directions, but always tight and perfectly controlled. Like your alt-folk innovative and iconoclastic? Then this is one for you.
Reviewer: Tim Carroll