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LAU - The Bell That Never Rang

LAU - The Bell That Never Rang
Reveal Records REVEAL047CDX

Never a band to leave the boat firmly anchored, Lau has again produced an astonishing album. The choice of Joan (As Police Woman) Wasser, with her roots in classical and Indie music, as producer, signalled change before I even slipped the disc into the player.

The first two songs, First Homecoming and The Death Of The Dining Car, confirm that it’s their most adventurous yet: more ‘rocky’, sonically audacious and with greater use of electronic effects. The melodies, weaving over the base rhythm, are still rooted in the Scottish tradition but are more deconstructed. In another break with previous albums, five of the six tracks are songs and vocals make a short appearance in the other. The third track, Back In Love, with its extended guitar introduction, has a more traditional feel before the vocals emerge underpinned with dense and complex melody.

The 17 minute title track, originally commissioned for Celtic Connections, is the highlight. From its ethereal and episodic string opening, it builds, soars and occasionally relaxes. Additional body is provided by the Elysian String Quartet. After nine minutes there is a change; a second movement, introduced by poignant vocals that eventually arrive at a repeated phrase; “Nobody knows when you’ll go, And no one thinks to tell you”, emerge, emphasising the profound sadness and yet uplifting nature of the piece. A third instrumental movement provides closure. Stunning.

And then such a change of pace and feel for the final song, Ghosts, which, perhaps to remind us of their roots in traditional music, examines the effects of the transplantation of populations.

This is music that needs to be listened to and listened to…

Iain Campbell

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This album was reviewed in Issue 109 of The Living Tradition magazine.