Lau’s new album, Race the Loser, is out this month. It has nine new tracks on it, one a brief sound piece of thirty-eight seconds long, the others all over four minutes each, with ‘Far From Portland’ being nearly eight minutes.
Instrumental music dominates the album, with even Kris Drever’s lyrics and pitched voice on the three songs being set within atmosphere-rich, extensive instrumental sections.
While rooted on the acoustic sounds of Martin Green’s piano accordion, Drever’s guitars and Aidan O’Rourke’s fiddle, there is considerable pushing of the instruments beyond conventional playing, there is Lau’s trademark dramatic arrangement and sudden mood shifts, and there is a degree of electronica.
For this album, Lau’s material has been worked up by Tucker Martine, the American producer who has worked with artists such as Bill Frisell, Beth Orton, The Decemberists, and Sufjan Stevens.
In keeping with the Lau lads’ wide-ranging creative interests, the Race the Loser album is merely one aspect of a wider Race the Loser ‘period’. There is a deluxe edition of the album that includes a second CD, Lau Live 2011, and which comes in the form of a carefully designed hardback book featuring a photographic essay by Ruth Paxton about the Orkney island of Swona, as well as photographic portraits of the three band members. There is a Lau-commissioned film directed by Paxton called Nevada (‘a short experimental film about hate, which will poetically interpret the demise of Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller’s marriage’), with three tracks from the album as its soundtrack. There is a Lau-programmed festival called Welcome to Lau-land coming up in London later this month (at which Nevada will be premiered with a live performance from Lau), featuring acts such as Dave Swarbrick and Martin Carthy, Rura, and a collaboration between Kenny Anderson (King Creosote) and Jon Hopkins.
For the Guardian newspaper Robin Denselow declared the album ‘exquisite and hypnotic musicianship at its best’, while Neil McFadden on FolkRadio UK describes it as ‘super-charged with confident, free-thinking music that will continue to enthral existing fans and kindle interest from an ever-widening audience’.
Fans in Ireland will have a chance to see Lau in Whelans on Wexford Street on Friday, 26 October; and at the Hawkswell Theatre, Sligo as part of the Sligo Live festival on Saturday, 27 October. The latter is a double-bill gig with Buille, and supported by Moxie.
Published on 3 October 2012