Larsen
SeieS Important http://www.tinymixtapes.comsites/default/files/arton470_0.jpg

[Important; 2006]

Rating: 4.5/5 4.5 / 5 (0)


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This current point in time appears to be a watershed period for bands that
might be grouped together under the banner of "experimental" music. With
the term "indie-rock" slowly becoming synonymous with inoffensive
songwriter pop fluff for jaded yuppies, it's rather apt that the next
place for connoisseurs hungry for stimulating sounds are bands that
operate on the fringes of the so-called independent music world itself. If
anything, this new crop of acts proves that not only do captivating yet
difficult musicians have the potential to find a healthy audience, but
that already established musical idioms, especially the genres of rock and
folk, have uncharted territory left in their seemingly exhausted waters.

While on one side we have the "noise" spectrum of experimentation, which
elevates harsh, endurance-testing sonics in the realms of rock and
electronic musics, there's also been a significant scene in recent years
that takes a distinct improvisatory approach to folk and post-classical
styles of musical thought. Acts like Wooden Wand And The Vanishing Voice,
the No-Neck Blues Band, and A Silver Mt. Zion have approached free-flowing
ideas and techniques with an often grim, discomforting glee, making for
music that while relatively soothing in its reverberations can still make
for an arduous, challenging listen. At its best, such music can be
euphorically gorgeous and singular and at worst, just unequivocally
boring.

Larsen fall somewhere between the neo-classical, post-rock, and neo-folk
strains of the experimental world. While generally unclassifiable, the
strains of driving post-rock, Eno-esque ambience, and Godspeed-like
melancholy are all discernable. It may be easy to say that Larsen aren't
reinventing the wheel when it comes to most recent experimental indie-rock
projects, but in a way, their latest album SeieS sounds removed
from everything else currently making the rounds; it's as if Larsen
produce the kind of music that you imagine in your head, but never quite
find materialized in the real world.

My first experience with the mysterious Italian band was through their
collaboration with Xiu Xiu from last year under the XXL banner. While that
project felt underdeveloped and unable to deliver on its limitless
potential, I'm happy to report that it was probably through no fault of
either party. SeieS, the band's fifth longplayer, is able to fill
all the spaces left too loose on the XXL collaboration with scores of
layered cello and viola, electronic haze, guitar, and glockenspiel; the
songs the band have crafted on their own sound so much more immediate and
optimistic. On tracks like "The Snow" and "Rever," the melodies are
relatively unchanging and stagnant, in the vein of most ambient music, but
like Eno's best ambient pieces, the emotional execution is too lovely to
discount as mere monotony. Elsewhere, songs like "Mother" and "Momi" drift
through in a more traditional post-rock manner, but touches like accordion
and guest vocals from former Swans member Jarboe add a unique urgency
rarely seen in most post-Tortoise imitators. Whenever Larsen feel as if
they may lump themselves in the minimalism gutter, a spark of creative
perplexity lifts them out.

Larsen only slip up on the final tune "Marzia," which feels
uncharacteristically grounded in the brooding guitar-squall sounds better
explored by folks like Mogwai. Otherwise, SeieS is all moments of
chiming awe, the mixture of organic and electronic brightness swirling
about harmoniously. It's an album sure to offer solace for those feeling
betrayed by the greater musical world and hoping to sift through countless
confusing racks of releases to find that one intriguing vision that
clicks.

1. The Snow
2. Mother
3. Rever
4. 2nd
5. Momi
6. Haula
7. Marzia

  

Some musical ruptures are so penetrating, so incisive that we just can’t help but exclaim EUREKA! While many of our picks here defy categorization and test the boundaries of what exactly discerns ‘music’ from ‘noise,’ others complement or continue anachronistic traditions that have provided new forms and ways of listening. We consider the section a work-in-progress, so expect its definition to be in perpetual flux. Check out the section here.