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Larsen & Z'EV - In V.Tro [Important Records - 2011]

Spiritual avant noise creator Z'EV and veteran Italian ambient rock band Larsen released their first collaboration album in 2011 on Important Records.  It contains two versions of the piece, a live version with mostly acoustic instruments and timbres, and the "Aural Mix", a more electronic sounding mix by Z'EV.

The first, 'live' version of the piece opens with a short percussion piece from Z'EV.  The instrument he is using produces a semi-tonal metallic rattling which could be electronic or acoustic in nature, it's impossible to tell.  The rhythms he plays are constantly shifting polyrhythmic madness that seems never to repeat itself.  Each time I hear it, my mind perceives different subliminal beats and grooves within the complexity.  It's wonderful.


Larsen provides the final 5 movements of the live "In V.Tro".  Their music could be said to be the most accessible form of drone - simple, consonant major chord riffs of only 1 or 2 different notes, played on conventional stringed instruments like guitar, violin and string bass, with accents from xylophones and the like - really, it's ambient post rock.  Initially unamazed, in time I appreciated the minimalist sonic precision of Larsen: the liquid purity of timbre.  Even near the end of each piece, when it has amassed many layers, their sound is completely transparent, legible, logical.  The lack of excess results in the creation of a clear-headed, ultimately joyous meditative space.


The murky, shifting delirium of the "Aural Mix", a remix of the piece by Z'EV, is incredibly refreshing after the beautiful but predictable first half.  In fact, I would give either version of the piece a 4/5 rating individually, but they compliment each other perfectly, as sunlight and shade.  These tracks are dominated by the kind of grainy, artifact-laden digital textures I am used to from Z'EV, but they're somehow more emotive and relatable here.  Compared to Z'EV albums like "Sum Things", which sound to my ears like they could have been randomly generated by a malfunctioning computer, the structures found here are human and musical.  This part of the piece has a half-awake, dreamlike quality.  Quasi-melodic resonances and bioluminscent tones nearly attain beauty, but never quite rise out of the granulated murk.  It's very surreal.


In conclusion this is a wonderful and unique ambient album with two very different halves that compliment each other perfectly.  It's a slow, unintrusive recording, but anyone who appreciates beautiful minimalist soundscapes should love it.  I highly recommend it to any listener with patience.

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

Josh Landry
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