Think how air looks when it's under water a globe, shiny, perfect
and jewel-like. In the same way silence, encased in fragile,
beautiful songs, takes on a whole new character, a self we never knew it
had until it was juxtaposed with sound.
If nothing else, Mi and L'au, the
French/Finnish couple who made this lovely debut record, understand the
presence of silence, the way it underscores and actuates the elements of
song. Consider, for instance, the spaces between picked guitar and bass on
opener "They Marry"... it's as if the players were actually picking their
way across paving stones laid in an icy pond. The whispered vocals, the
cascades of piano notes, the interchange of hiss and natural sound all
is framed by deep quiet. And it's the quiet, as much as the sounds
themselves, that makes this cut so beautiful.
Mi and L'au recorded this album in a cottage in rural Finland, so the deep
tranquility and wintry purity of their tunes make a sort of environmental
sense. (You could probably make a noise-punk disc in a woodland cottage,
but it would take some work.) You can picture a wooden kitchen table, a
darkening sky, a harsh chill warmed by wood smoke, in the silence that leads
up to "Boxer." As Mi draws breath and starts with an "OK," her lover's
guitar twines lovingly in and around the spaces, pausing to let her pure,
childlike voice through. There's a drama in the minor chord progressions,
the soft crescendos and whispered arias to "pity and betrayal," yet it's a
domestic drama, hemmed in by crockery, folded clothes and murmured
confidences over coffee.
This album documents committed love, private love, a father's wonder at the
baby growing in a woman's body, a women's gravity about the promise of
marriage. "There's a world in your belly," sings Lau on the song of the
same name, trembling over surges of strings and glowing washes of synthetic
sound. You can't help visualizing the lock of eyes or the brush of hand
over body. It seems almost too personal to be shared, yet the songs'
simplicity, purity, lack of maudlin-ness carry you through. Later, in
"Nude," Mi sings about telltale smiles and conjugal nakedness. You
wouldn't want this record on after you've left your first love, or in the
middle of an epic fight with your spouse, but in the right, tranquil,
commitment-focused mood, it is just the thing.