|The Bell That Never Rang|
Lau — The Bell That Never Rang
Formed: 2006 in Edinburgh, Scotland
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Album release: May 4, 2015
Record Label: Reveal Records
1 First Homecoming 4:39
2 The Death of the Dining Car 4:39
3 Back in Love Again 6:45
4 Tiger Hill (Armoured Man) 6:02
5 The Bell That Never Rang 17:01
6 Ghosts 4:48
℗ 2015 Reveal Records
•♦• All songs DREVER / GREEN / O'ROURKE
•♦• Reveal Publishing / MCPS / Reveal Publishing
•♦• Produced by Joan Wasser
♦ Martin Green — Accordion/FX
♦ Kris Drever — Guitar/Vocals
♦ Aidan O'Rourke — Fiddle
♦ Lightweights and Gentlemen (2007)
♦ Arc Light (2009)
♦ Race the Loser (September 2012)
♦ Evergreen (credited to Lau vs Karine Polwart, 2010)
♦ Ghosts (credited to Lau vs Adem, 2011)
•♦• Aidan O'Rourke (born 1975) is a Scottish contemporary folk music fiddle player and composer. He was named the 2014 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Musician of the Year and the Scots Trad Music Awards 2011 Composer of the Year. In addition to his solo career, O' Rourke also plays in the award–winning folk trio Lau alongside Kris Drever and Martin Green. He was one of 20 musicians commissioned for New Music 20x12 by PRS for Music Foundation to celebrate the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. O'Rourke has worked with Eddi Reader, Andy Sheppard, Alyth, Roddy Woomble and appears on more than eighty recordings. Previously, he was a member of Blazin' Fiddles, The Unusual Suspects and Tabache.
♦ Sirius (2006)
♦ An Tobar (2008)
♦ Hotline (2013)
•♦• BBC RADIO 2 FOLK AWARD WINNERS
•♦• BEST BAND, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013
Lau: The Bell That Never Rang review — experimental folk aces switch direction again.
Robin Denselow, Thursday 30 April 2015 18.15 BST; Score: ****
•♦• The most experimental trio on the British folk scene move on, once again. Lau are an exhilarating live band, thanks to the often improvised, complex interplay between fiddle, accordion, guitar and electronica. Now, working with producer Joan Wasser (AKA Joan As Police Woman), they have switched direction once again. In some ways it’s a more conventional album, dominated by songs. Guitarist Kris Drever is on fine and thoughtful voice on every track, at times accompanied by edgy, stomping electric guitar riffs and throbbing electronics, and Aidan O’Rourke adding jaunty fiddle work. But the album changes direction dramatically for the 17–minute title track, in which they are joined by the strings of the Elysian Quartet for a piece that matches lyrical passages and discord before eventually easing into pleasantly languid vocals from Drever and a pained chorus: “Nobody knows where you’re going / No one thinks to tell you.” It’s bravely adventurous.
•♦• Named after an Orcadian word meaning "natural light" (though they deliberately misspelled it from "lowe"), Lau formed in Edinburgh in 2006 and were quickly hailed as a band of rare innovation and invention. The three founders, Aidan O'Rourke, Kris Drever, and Martin Green, were all much admired musicians in their own right, widely experienced playing in various disparate bands, but in all cases Lau represents their most challenging and satisfying musical advance in a band set up as a deliberate antidote to the legions of hyperactive jigs'n'reels outfits backed by drum and bass found all over Scotland. Introducing unusual rhythms, jazz influences, and a certain amount of improvisation, they created a subtly provocative style of arrangements and tune–playing basically not heard before in the folk circles they mostly frequented. They met on the vibrant Edinburgh session scene where jazz musicians also congregated and there was much spontaneous crossover between jazz and folk.
•♦• O'Rourke, an explosive fiddle player from Seil off the west coast of Scotland, first went on the road at 15, becoming a member of Blazing Fiddles and at the age of 19 formed Tabache with Claire Mann. He also became a member of Unusual Suspects and fusion band Kevin Mackenzie's Vital Signs, made his first solo album, Sirius, in 2003, and formed Sunhoney with Donald Hay and Alyth McCormack, mixing trad tunes with jazz and hip–hop. Instrumentalist of the Year at the 2005 Scottish Traditional Music Awards, O'Rourke had already played on over 50 albums before resolving to start a new band with Drever and Green. The son of Ivan Drever of folk–rock band Wolfstone, Kris Drever had also built a big reputation since leaving his home in the Orkneys for Edinburgh, his intuitive guitar style and laid–back singing becoming a feature of various outfits, and he'd already recorded his debut solo album, Black Water, when Lau got underway. English accordion player Martin Green is from Cambridge, built his own reputation as a dazzling, live–wire box player in bands like Whiskey Before Breakfast and the Joe Townsend Band, and spent several years with Eliza Carthy's band, including a duet album Dinner, with Carthy in 2001. A move to Scotland to be with his girlfriend introduced him to the Edinburgh session scene and facilitated the formation of Lau.
•♦• After several months of dedicated rehearsal in O'Rourke's kitchen, putting together a set of all original tunes, they made their debut with gigs at the Leith Folk Club and Edinburgh Festival in 2006. The empathetic interplay and unexpected twists in their music made them an instant hit, partly because nobody — not even the bandmembers — knew exactly what they'd do next. "Nothing is purely improvised but there are certain tracks with a designated window to allow improvisation," said O'Rourke. "It can be a big window or a little window depending on the gig." Their debut album, Lightweights & Gentlemen, a mix of their own tunes and unusual interpretations of songs like "Freeborn Man" and "Unquiet Grave," was released early in 2007 to great acclaim, though everyone — including each of the bandmembers — has struggled to find a phrase that would accurately describe the music. One review describing the music as "sublime, anarchic modern folk music" perhaps captured their spirit best. All three members of Lau also founded the experimental left–field band Parallelogram.
•♦• Lau are modern folk music's most innovative band. Brilliant musicians, thrilling performers and free–thinking visionaries.
•♦• Their new album 'Race The Loser' (out on Reveal Records October 1st) was recorded with American producer Tucker Martine (Sufjan Stevens, The Decemberists, R.E.M., Laura Veirs) in Scotland throughout the Spring of 2012.
•♦• ‘Race The Loser’ pushes Lau’s complex, yet accessible sound, even further to the outer reaches of folk music whilst retaining all the strengths of the original acoustic trio (Kris Drever Vocals/Guitar, Martin Green Accordion, Aidan O’Rourke Fiddle).
•♦• In 2007 their debut album 'Lightweights and Gentlemen' mixed original tunes with inspired arrangements of traditional material and rocketed Lau to the fore of the burgeoning new folk scene, soon followed by a staggering onslaught of awards that includes an unprecedented three consecutive wins as Best Group at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.
•♦• Having dramatically cemented their reputation as a blistering stage act, Lau followed their debut with the much loved 'Lau Live' album just a year later and in 2009 came the equally acclaimed 'Arc Light ' with a grander setting that produced a heavily played single 'Winter Moon' and an invitation from Mojo Magazine to cover The Beatles 'Dear Prudence' for their 'White Album' celebrations.
•♦• Cue more awards, triumphant international touring, a proud catalogue of stomping festival appearances, splinter bands, solo recordings and a string of intriguing recent collaborations with rock legend Jack Bruce (Cream) Karine Polwart, Adem and a vast new orchestral work 'Strange Attractors' with composer Brian Irvine and The Northern Sinfonia.
•♦• ‘Race The Loser’ features Lau’s best, most universal and significant music yet, the sound of three exceptionally talented friends embracing with open arms yet another new chapter of what has already been an extraordinary musical journey.
•♦• Cue more awards, triumphant tours, a proud catalogue of stomping headline festival appearances, splinter bands and a string of intriguing collaborations that we now find flavouring the new sound of Lau, as revealed on fourth album, Race The Loser. One of those collaborators, ambient electro pioneer Adem — who worked with Lau on the Ghosts EP with its themes of social migration and refugees — has certainly encouraged them to explore the potential of technology, resulting in Martin Green now juggling his accordion wizardry with an element of knob–twiddling.
•♦• “We learned an awful lot from Adem,” says Green. “Folk music can be quite conservative at times, but he worked in such a different way it opened a lot of things up and gave us permission to do anything. That has stayed with us. We have a great love for electronic music and some of it works with Lau and some of it doesn’t, you just have to keep your ears open and keep it tasteful. ”
•♦• At the other extreme, another major influence has been contemporary composer Brian Irvine, who roped Lau into Strange Attractors, commissioned by the Sage in Gateshead as an orchestral piece, pitching Lau with the Northern Sinfonia. This, too, had a big effect on them, allowing them license to explore a sonic approach and experiment with a more spatial sound.
•♦• “These collaborations felt like they were giving us a new palate to work with,” says Martin. “Karine Polwart, Jack Bruce, Brian Irvine, Adem…they’ve all helped us and inspired a lot of pieces and we all feel really confident as a result.”
•♦• Having worked closely with Calum Malcolm on the previous albums, they’ve adopted a different tack on Race The Loser, enlisting the production services of Nashville’s Tucker Martine, noted for his work with Sufjan Stevens, The Decemberists, R.E.M and Laura Veirs. “We loved the sound he got on the Abigail Washburn album, it’s so creative.” says Aidan O’Rourke. “
•♦• And the loyal Lau family — increasingly aligned to the group through the online Lau–land community — needn’t worry about the band they know and love turning into a techno orgy driven by beats and computers….
•♦• “Noooo,” says Aidan. “It’s just that we have these additional tools and writing compositions that include laptop, effects and loops has become part of the process. We write with those things in mind and they can be as important as instruments. It all adds to the sparkle and widens what we do as a trio. But we’re not going to become an electronic band. We’re a folk trio and always will be…”
|The Bell That Never Rang|