Lau Nau & Kuupuu: The Finn Sound From Way Out
Lau Nau (Laura Naukkarinen) and Kuupuu (Jonna Karanka) are two musicians from Finland -- that's east of Sweden, west of Russia, and home to the largest forested area in Europe. (Subsequently, it's one of Europe's most sparsely populated countries.) But independent, improvised music recognizes no governmental borders. Naukkarinen and Karanka are part of a global community of do-it-yourself musicians exploring the rich musical territory between song and sound.
And yet, you can almost hear a Finnish sensibility in their music. Maybe long nights, snow drifts, and deep forests are a suitable environment for the gentle wildness within.
This Spinning on Air session opens with Karanka performing a continuous suite: a sonic collage of vocal sounds, Bollywood samples, toy noisemakers and more, stitched together with digital delay, and shaped by her elegant way of balancing noise and lyricism. With her machines and materials spread around her, Karanka knelt on the studio floor, engrossed in the delicate manipulation of her tools.
Naukkarinen's set is more song-oriented. It opens with a traditional Finnish song, followed by "Lue kartalta," a playful romp you can watch her assemble before your eyes in the embedded video. Naukkarinen has previously written and performed her songs in Finnish, but she opens the next song with the line, "My friend, Nosferatu, your claws have been growing again..." She wraps up her set with a totally danceable ditty -- pop music from another dimension.
It was a particular pleasure to be in the studio when, after both solo sets had ended, the two improvised a final piece together. They began with nothing, but ended with riches -- an exquisite example of the way these artists engage sound and invite listeners to join them in their unique way of hearing the world.
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