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4.6 out of 5 stars
Race The Loser
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This 2012 release is the third album from `folk' supergroup LAU. I put folk into inverted commas as they are so much more than that. Consisting of Kris Drever, Aidan O'Rourke and Martin Green, I genuinely think that they are one of the most exciting things on the music scene at the moment.

My wife and I first came to Lau through Kris Drever - we had been exploring some Roddy Woomble albums, and had been captivated by Drever's voice on `Before the Ruin'. We got his two excellent solo albums, and then realised he is also part of a group, so we started to get these albums as well. And what an amazing set of albums these guys have produced!

The sound of Lau is made up of Drever's guitar and vocals, Green's accordion and O'Rourke's fiddle. They are rooted in the folk traditions of the British isles, but are pretty experimental and boundary pushing. They mix elements of folk, rock, jazz, and anything else they please into a superb whole. Green is particularly inventive with the accordion, at one point even making it wheeze like an asthmatic. The three mesh together to produce an amazing sound. It's not as ferocious as their earlier work, with a restrained, thoughtful air. But the air of experimentation and boundary pushing is breathtaking. There's nothing to overt, no `look at me aren't I clever' attitude, but there is a sense of pushing their instruments and recording techniques in an effort to find just the right sound to express what they want to say. The result is a heartfelt album which really packs a punch. 5 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 May 2013
I thought this was a pretty strong album. Lau's instrumentals and folk song arrangements remain highly effective.

Four stars because for me it does not match their awesome debut 'Lightweights & Gentlemen' which received all sorts of praised when released in 2007. 'Race The Loser' is perhaps more experimental in its instrumentation, often to great effect - it feels like the band is continuing to trim things back instead of laying it on thick just because it's worked for them before. The results continue to set them apart from the vast majority of folk acts out there, although I can't see these guys making their way into the charts any time soon.

Drever, Green and O'Rourke somehow manage to make their material seem classic without clichés, and to be maverick without thinning the soul of the music. Another very impressive album.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Lau have been voted best folk act for zillions of years in a row now, and are oft described as pushing folk to the limits (since when did a musical genre have limits)and the most exciting thing since the sun first ever popped over the horizon, all absolutely true of course.
Live they are a true wonder, and can rock as good as most rock bands, but describing them without actually seeing them do their stuff is like trying to describe what an oyster tastes like- you can't can you.

This album does turn slightly left since the last one with the addition of elctronic pulses, woven into their hallmark of seemingly haphazard time signatures.But its still Lau rooted firmly in the folk idiom..............the first track may, however , leave you thinking otherwise, its a gorgeous low key uncluttered song on the theme of ageing, but could almost be described as chamber music; track 2 will leave most Lau fans aghast (at least initially) , what, what! some sort of electronic drone going on, but eventually blended with Aidens fiddle,eventually to be added to by Kris's very simple guitar picking........giving off flavours of King Creosote? And so the album goes on , by the time you get to 'Torsa' , it , along with the first two tracks provide the music for a video project which the band are still working on.

The album is primarily instrumental (as ever) , but it just feels so much more laid back than previous efforts( particularly 'The Bird That Winds The Spring'), just that little bit more casual, maybe deceptively so; not quite so 'proggy' as the last album (actually nowhere near as proggy!), and because of this the music doesn't quite smack you between the lugs as previously. But lets be clear this is a majestic album that combines all the traditional elements of folk , jigs, reels etc, but doesn't need to try quite so hard to impress.

A more mature Lau? A more self assured but just as musically dextrous? Yes to both and add to that a lusher richer sound.

An absolute corker of an album that grows with stature on each listen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 December 2012
Let me pull a few names out the hat such as Kris Drever, Andy Cuttings, Martin Simpson, Gordon Bruce and Karine Polwart all good all blazing a trail , however LAU ( of course Kris is a member ) is effectively a `supergroup` - for all the best reasons. Ive seen them live - gonna see them again. Buy this CD you wouldnt be disappointed.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
If Mumford and Sons are to folk what Kenny Ball and his Jazz Men are to jazz, then Lau inhabit the equivalent space as the likes of, oh I don't know, Wynton Marsalis say. Now I've upset Jazz AND folk fans let me try and extricate myself.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with M & S, like the shop the initials also represent, they are solid, dependable, not too adventurous but very good at what they do, and they please a lot of folk. I like them, both the band and the shop. I like Kenny Ball, and Wynton Marsalis as well but I Love Lau. Why? Well they provide proof that the British folk scene isn't just about chant along choruses and toe tapping tunes. Although Lau can do this - the Lightweights and Gentlemen album has many examples - Race the Loser shows them at their melancholy best. Faintly discordant fiddles vie with soulful accordian and ethereal guitar to furnish us with soundscapes that veer perilously close to avant garde at times. Backed up by various electronic effects at times and a weird breathy device on a couple of tracks (someone will fill me in as to what this is I hope) this album pushes folk to its limits and it is well worth coming along for the ride.

If Glen Moray is at the lighter end of single malt whiskies, this album is cask strength Laphroaig, not one for the faint of heart. If you let the taste linger, the sweetness and bite rewards the effort. I suggest you get yourself a decent dram of said single malt, turn the lights out and let this album transport you who knows where.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
As with their previous Cd great and novel musicianship, very good instrumentalists, but IMO typical of Scottish folk music weak on the actual melody side, I'm sure Scottish folk fans will disagree with this but I really can't say I found anything catchy or melodious in this Cd.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 January 2013
another superb release from this remarkable group who are even better live. They are superb musicians who can play great tunes then improvise , with fluid changes in time signature , full of variety
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on 19 November 2012
Having staged LAU in Lincoln 4 times in the past 5 years and loved each one of their previous albums, this was eagerly anticipated. As individuals, they have produced some masterful albums and as a group all of the excitement of their solo work comes together in an entirely complete form. It is impossible to select individual tracks as being highlights since they are all as unique and exciting as we have come to expect from such a superb collaboration of the finest musicians in their genre.
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on 23 December 2012
I have only just discovered LAU,boy am i glad i did, this is a cracking album,it as touches of electronica thrown into the mix, which enhances the wonderful folk music that LAU are making on this album,a cracking album,ps on tour in the spring of 2013 :O)
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on 24 November 2012
This is a wonderful collision of the melancholy english traditional music and foot stomping celtic folk. Traditional music speaks across the ages but remains relevant to our trials and tribulations. Sit back and enjoy this wonderful musical journey.
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