Lau Nau | Amphipoda
Rimbarimba | Sea, Shore, See, Sure
Longform Editions (DL)
Longform Editions styles itself as a ‘collective for deep-listening’, which admittedly sounds a lot cooler than a ‘label that releases quite long pieces of music’. The range of artists they have on board is impressive, consisting of a plethora of both the well-known and the more obscure. In this instance, we have two artists with whom I was previously unfamiliar, Lau Nau and Rimarimba.
With Amphipoda, Lau Nau concocts a chipper, almost Reichian work of poly-rhythmic joy, several thousand chime-like blips bursting through the speakers. On some levels it sounds like a really, really good ring-tone, but there is obviously something more going on – the evolution between its rhythmic and timbral variations is largely seamless, with very small changes in character helping to accent the passage of time in an extremely pleasing fashion.
It’s all very lovely, even to the point that I am willing to forgive the vaguely pan-pipe sound that occasionally creeps in, risking giving the whole thing a little too strong a new-age vibe. On some levels Amphipoda is not miles away from the sort of self-help, reiki-crystal fare you might find playing in the background of shops filled with incence and dubiously inauthentic american-indian head-bands: if it wasn’t so effective I might bemoan its chosen style a little more. Thankfully, Lau Nau works with her materials so skillfully that it is impossible not to be won over by its charm – and the second half actually manages to subtly move away from the new-age pleasantries by invoking ever so slightly harsher tones, a favour of higher pitches that whilst not unpleasant, certainly give the whole affair some much needed bite. For those who are charmed by minimal, repetitive rhythms, and faintly purist synth tones, Lau Nau’s composition will be a well-rendered and really quite appealing exploration of its aesthetic.
Longform are clearly fans of pleasant work, for Rimarimba’s effort – Sea, Shore, See, Sure – is an as equally cuddly piece. Without being privy to its construction, it appears the driver here is a guitar run through one of those pedals that plays everything in reverse. Whilst Lau Nau’s ‘long’ work was a rather light 20 minutes, here we get over an hour of reversed bliss, glued together with some quite organic drones that I am going to go ahead and assume come from a harmonium.
There is something all very ‘post-rock’ about the sound world invoked, and whilst on occasion it is restrained to the point of beauty, all too often we are left with something that is borderline cheesy. Things work better when either the composer pulls back, revealing a muddy, wash of sound, or ramps it up a bit, pulling out more melodic, arabesque motifs from the competing threads. All too often, however, we are left in a pleasant but slightly boring middle-ground, with just enough action to prevent you getting truly immersed in the overall aesthetic.
I am a big fan of Longform Editions approach to their releases, and both these entries are, in their way, fine example of long (ish) music. Lau Nau is clearly the more interesting of the two, but there is certainly an existing fanbase for the sort of thing Rimarimba are doing. Both works do verge on the side of the polite, which may appeal to some but offput others: either way, the result is in both cases a worthy listen to anyone who fancies a bit of temporal-focused music.