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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Go to the Larsen website  Larsen - Rever [Young God Records - 2002]

Chances are that you’ve never heard of this record. But if you did, chances are even higher that you know more about the circumstances surrounding the recording of Rever than about the music itself. I’m not going to blame you on this as the story is quite peculiar. If you know it already, just skip the next paragraph...

It seems that for almost a year, on the first and the twenty-first day of each month, Michael Gira (The Swans, Angels of Light and Young God Records) got a package containing a CD-R. On these CD’s featured short bits of music, strange sounds, voices, drones or nothing at all. One day Gira received a letter saying: “Come to Torino. You will work with us from the 1st day of next month through the 21st. You will depart on the 22nd. Consider the enclosed advance payment for your efforts…Until then, Larsen.” Gira duly obliged... During the whole recording process, he never saw the musicians as they were playing behind a screen... Did you say intriguing?

Actually, maybe this mysterious aura works against Larsen as people might be tempted to consider this whole procedure as just another marketing coup and the involvement of Michael Gira as an attempt to earn some credibility. People thinking that way really don’t know what they are missing...

The album begins with Impro #2 (and it ends with Impro #1 by the way). Monotonous guitar melody, accordion, trumpet and voice repeating over and over again the same sounds. It doesn’t take you one minute to understand you’re in for a special travel. And the next 50 minutes are no disappointment, let me tell you...  Piano, accordion, trumpet, voice, guitars, basses, percussions, drums and electronics are the basis of a music that Larsen manage to transcend, from mere instruments to an extraordinary ritual. If I have to speak of genres, then you get industrial elements, post-rock approach to song structures, wall of guitars (well balanced: not too loud, not intrusive), ambient, folk (à la Low) and of course experimentation.  If you want me to get into name-checking, it’s gonna be a tad more complicated... I already mentioned Low and it’s true that Larsen also echoes that feeling of an empty dark cathedral known by the Duluth threesome’s fans. Akin reminds me also of The SwansGreat Annihilator-era. Yet comparing Larsen to other artists (however good those artists may be) wouldn’t do justice to their sheer brilliance; the unique chemistry that their music is.

Rever is something of a catharsis, amplifying one’s emotion and changing his mood exactly when needed. One track will make you feel tense, the next one will soothe you at exactly the moment you want to be soothed. There is nothing superfluous in here, only what is absolutely necessary. The only thing this album is not going to make you think of is happiness: there is a constant sadness, some sort of melancholy underlining the music from start to finish. Just what I need, just what I love.

The recording process was peculiar, so is the band and so is their music. A wonderful record if you’re not afraid to dare trying it.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

François Monti
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