Sunday, May 22, 2016

Lau Nau new album "Hem. Någonstans" & West Coast Tour: May 26 - June 4

Documenting the emerging new Finnish underground as a focal point and locus of the scene, the vast majority of the Fonal Records releases have been recorded, mixed and mastered at the label's own in-house SS-Palace Studio. Independent institution in every sense, founder Sami Sänpäkkilä has run label from his home in Ulvila since it's inception in the mid-1990s with an extended family involved in every aspect of the label's process, from assembling books to packaging records. Releasing a roster of largely psychedelia influenced folk music and abstract fusions with ambient and tonal enterprises, the Fonal sound came to assemble around the vanguard of Jan Anderzén's "chemical friends" project, Kemialliset Ystävät. Ensconced in it's tapestry of Northern European folk and 1970s improvisational rock traditions can be heard influences ranging as wide as interstellar mythology of Karlheinz Stockhausen and large ensemble Afro-Futurist explorations of Sun Ra. Gathering momentum and a growing body of like-minded artists from the surrounding Nordic cultural landscape by the early 2000s, Matthew Wuethrich delivered the first extensive mapping of Finland's new folk underground for The Wire's December 2004 issue. In pieces for various publications over the course of the decade, Wuethrich and Jordan N. Mamone becoming cultural emissaries of sorts for Finland's new strange vein of folk, the "Fonal Records: A Logo, A Sound, A Goal – but No Ads" and overview of "Finland Calling" for Dusted offering some of the first interviews outside of Finland with the scene's founding players. Their work at the time almost the singular english language resource covering the extended collective enterprises under the label's banner outfits of Kemialliset Ystävät, Avarus, Paavoharju, Tomutonttu and Sänpäkkilä's own ES.

Foremost among the scene's solo voices, the obtuse wanderings of Islaja's solemn lyrical explorations are a strong counterpoint to the more distended psychedelia of her label compatriots. A intimately inward-looking music mapping the physical and psychic landscape of rural Finland; mountains, clouds sun and sea make up Merja Kokkonen's thematic and lyrical geography. Another of the label's idiosyncratic, finely honed soundworlds can be heard in the music of Laura Naukkarinen. Her breathy open songforms built of fragile, spectral states center around ambient improvisation and extended drone exercise. Arriving with significant fanfare, the finesse of the debut "Kuutarha" garnered inclusion in the 50 Albums of the Year in The Wire's 2005 Rewind. Employing strings, dulcimer and an array of acoustic instruments Lau Nau's ear for protracted tonal explorations was further realized in the following "Nukuu" of 2008. Embracing psychedelia and northern folk traditions as much as the avant-garde of mid-Century minimalism, the course of Naukkarinen's creative arc has most recent arrived at producing scores for Benjamin Christensen's "Haxan", Jean Epstein's "The Fall of the House of Usher", Robert Wien's "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" and the seminal horror of Victor Sjöström's haunting, "The Phantom Carriage". This affinity for the contained world's of early silent and Expressionist cinema has informed her most recent, ”Hem. Någonstans”. An instrumental album spinning variations around Naukkarinen's soundtrack to Lotta Petronella's similarly named documentary film, ”Home. Somewhere”, it's focus the quietude and small events that comprise the lives of those living in a remote Finnish archipelago. Later this month and next, Lau Nau will be bringing her musical mirroring of the subtly experimental documentary film on a west coast tour, with a series of dates in Vancouver, Seattle, Portland and a span of events in the San Francisco Bay Area, fittingly hosted in smaller, intimate environments and community cultural centers.