Larsen - Play [Important Records - 2005]Two years ago, I wrote my admiration of Larsen’s music in a review of their Young God released Rever album. They are back in early 2005 with another magnificent work, inspired by… Autechre.
Italian band Larsen has been around for almost 12 years now. In 1997, they released their debut album, followed in 2002 by Rever. In early 2004, they released Musm, an album that I’ve had a lot of problems tracking down: in fact I haven’t been able to listen to it yet.
A couple of weeks ago, good news came into my mail box in the form of a totally unexpected parcel from Important Records, featuring Play, the brand new Larsen CD. I had been aware of the project for quite a while and was quite happy to see it materialize right in front of my eyes, so to speak. As it was the case with Rever, the story behind this album is very interesting. Bassist Silvia Grosso left the band a month prior to a gig at a new music festival. It would have been very difficult for them to perform their usual material without Silvia, so they decided to play a set of cover versions. Never shy to experiment, Larsen decided to cover Autechre, whose compositions are obviously extremely different to theirs. They say they have failed since they got “lost” in their music. Anyway, they were left with four very interesting compositions, on which they worked for months before recording them in one night with Marco Milanesio as co-producer.
The music sounds nothing like Autechre. Nevertheless, it’s fantastic. Even fascinating. The lazy thing would be to say that Larsen is a post-rock band. Far from it: the Italian four piece doesn’t indulge in the quite / loud /quiet formula. They begin very slowly and quietly, instruments intervene gradually. Little symphonies are built. Intensity grows. The atmosphere thickens and lightens at the same time. Celestial riffs, drone, strings.
Putting Play on is like embarking on some little boat on a very large river. You’re slowly taken away from the bank, you have no control whatsoever, the only thing you can do is submit to the sheer magnificence of the sounds that might as well put you in a trance-like state. It’s like a western post everything mantra, a spiritual moment without gods. It’s already one of the most beautiful albums of 2005.François Monti