mLau croon an eternal Lullaby For Wendla Bergmann in their haunting new goth-folk single and wonderfully creepy animated video — showcasing today on Tinnitist.
Originally composed for a production of the play Spring Awakening by the German author Frank Wedekind (1864-1919), Lullaby For Wendla Bergmann answers the musical question: What would it sound like if Suzanne Vega and Stereolab collaborated on the soundtrack for an animated fable directed by Tim Burton?
Spring Awakening is a controversial work written in 1891 and described by the author himself as “eine Kindertragödie” (a children’s tragedy). Wendla is a 13 year old girl who discovers love with a boy of her same age and becomes pregnant. But her mother, wanting to hide this shame from their social circles, ends up killing her while planning an abortion with the aid of a doctor. The nursery-rhyme vocals contrast with a dissonant tapestry of sounds that reflect the contrast between the children’s innocence and the violence of adults.
The video was animated by Daniela Cono, with illustrations by Alessandra Fierro. mLau’s Maria Laura Ronzoni describes the symbolism of the film: “When brainstorming with Daniela and Alessandra about the making of the video, I realized I was looking for images that could trespass the lyrics of the song, to reach a narrative level parallel to Wedekind’s tale and bring the poetic, symbolic and musical level closer to the development of the actual tragedy.
“The father, in my lyrics, represents the patriarchal and authoritarian society that caused the actual death of the little girl. In Wedekind’s tale instead there is no mention of Wendla’s father. This figure, in a stroke of genius, is replaced by the doctor, the mother’s accomplice, but the meaning is unequivocal. In our video we wanted even the doctor to disappear, replaced by the instrument of death, the giant syringe that always terrifies children.”
“We also wanted the images for the song’s chorus to be, graphically and stylistically, completely detached from the verses. The voice repeatedly sings: ‘Dream, sweet dreams,’ a lullaby for Wendla, while the silhouettes of bodies, moving frantically and uncoordinatedly, jerkily and occasionally even out of time, are the adults killing Wendla as they bid her goodnight. The irony is chilling and gives me a cue to emphasise the brutal contrast between Wendla’s naive world and the one of the adults, cruel, idiotic, empty, hypocritical, corrupt and schizophrenic as Wedekind saw them.”
mLau is the duo of Ronzoni and Massimo Marraccini. Hailing from Rome, they mix alternative folk and futuristic electronics, enriched by artistic videos. She supplies the vocals, lyrics and melodies, which he enriches with rhythmic and harmonic textures. Their background is rooted In alternative folk, post-rock and trip-hop, and their attitude focuses on pure artistic expression without strict rules.
Their first two singles, No One Around and A Queen With No Head, were released in 2020, followed in 2021 by an EP entitled Locked In, which included an elegant, minimalist electro-folk interpretation of Bob Dylan’s Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues. They are currently hard at work on their debut album, which will include new songs inspired by literary figures, social themes and more, with the traditional and futuristic going hand in hand.