Following up their split EP with Karine Polwart, acclaimed Scottish folk trio Lau have embarked on another collaborative effort, this time with London based musician Adem.
It was Lau’s sound engineer Tim who initially introduced the band to the multi-instrumental producer, leading to a day of recording in a London studio. The pairing is a fitting one, with Adem charting the transition of folk music into contemporary and experimental realms – indeed his solo efforts have been heralded as subtly groundbreaking and progressive – while conversely Lau prove their slant on traditional styles, [both original compositions and reworkings of old], far from pigeon-holed, marking them as one of the most innovative folk bands working today.
On being given the chance to work with Adem; Lau members Kris Drever, Martin Green and Aiden O’Rourke stated “he is a really inspiring guy and encouraged us to try all sorts of things we wouldn’t normally get up to, including playing a variety of instruments not let loose normally within the Lau noise-menagerie”.
As an album the Ghosts EP clocks in at just over 30 minutes, but the subtly atmospheric diversity which each artist brings to the table allows you to take away much more than a slice of half hour escapism. Undoubtedly this pairing of Lau and Adem will draw comparisons, to, or be grouped alongside the King Creosote and Jon Hopkins collaboration of this month entitled Diamond Mine, which again combines traditional folk of the former with the experimentation of the latter; and which too has worked with astonishingly moving effect.
On Ghosts, the seven track recording is spliced in such a way that the tracks are quite easily recognisable as either heavily Lau’s or Adem’s influence as they follow an ABAB patterning. Lau quietly kick off proceedings before ‘Imporsa’ follows up, almost spacey, with touches of Pink-Floyd as it drips – blip blop – in electronic pluckings of strings before a build up of beats lend it a Radiohead circa Kid A quality. Perhaps the percussion and minimal use of O’Rourke’s fiddle is the only element lending this composition a folk detailing – neither form too intrusive on the other’s territory.
Title track ‘Ghosts’ is the sole track featuring the lyrics and vocals of Kris Drever, typical of Lau with accordion accompaniment from Martin Green. While ‘Mr Timony; conversely features a shimmering, if eerily tinged “omming”, before this is interupted by a confusion of static fuzz – Adem’s touch. Many of the instrumentals toy with an electronic manipulation of the elements. How can they replicate the sound of winds perhaps, just listen closely to the whirring on ‘Jargonaut’, or to the droplets of water, or is it the running of a faucet that springs to mind when playing ‘Imporsa’. Lau do a good job of bookending Ghosts, their opening giving way to the synthetic layers they play with throughout, while elegaic closer ‘Last Ghost Alive’ is a haunting glissando of strings, a sound both eerie and beautiful and a nod to the juxtaposition attempted with instrumentation and electronics throughout the EP’s length.
Inevitably, as with any work of this scope, some of these compositions work better than others, but like we believe here at FRUK, the genre does not need to be folk in the purest and simplist form of the word, and a pairing of this nature, ambient and humble in results, highlights exactly that.