Larsen HMKE EP

[Important; 2005]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: post rock, dark ambient, experimental electronic, noise rock
Others: Piano Magic, Lustmord, Fridge, Sonic Youth, Burning Store Core

Larsen's HMKE is a short, sweet teaser EP containing two original Larsen pieces, "M" and "K," sandwiched between two mixes (by Deathprod and Origami Galaktika, respectively). Though it is not the release that should serve as an introduction to the mysterious Italian experimental rock outfit (the band's debut, Rever, is the place to start), HMKE is nonetheless sufficient to whet one's appetite while awaiting the upcoming Larsen release, Seis, which is to be released, allegedly, in February, 2006.

The EP begins with "H," a mix from Deathprod, nom de guerre of the esteemed Norwegian composer Helge Sten, who is also part of the Supersilent collective. At just over two minutes in length, the track is the closest to dark ambient to be found on the EP. A minimal piece comprised of little more than ominous, ambient drones, "H" is the anomaly on the record, as it is almost wholly unrepresentative of the bulk of Larsen's increasingly vast body of work.

The two originals that make up the middle section of the HMKE EP are simple, beautiful pieces that expose the darker side of what is commonly and tediously known as post-rock. The gentle, icy guitars and haunting cello on "M" would not have been out of place on a spooky, instrumental The For Carnation outtake. Although it is constructed with extraordinary subtlety and a minimalist aesthetic, "M" never bores. Furthermore, it showcases the band's knack for utilizing textures to create a deep, brooding atmosphere. The track was originally the soundtrack to an audio/video art installation entitled "Pari o Dispari," by Italian artist Marzia Migliora. Larsen, in the time-honored post-rock tradition, demonstrate that they are in their element when creating background music, particularly of the autumnal variety. And if "M" evokes the moods of autumn, then "K" is its wintertime counterpart. The cello and accordion on the piece infuse it with a distinctly Nordic chill. The track betrays an even further connection between Larsen and the artists on the Rune Grammofon label. Though it is more atonal and strictly minimal than "M," the loping, circular nature of the piece allows it to become firmly embedded in one's consciousness.

"E," the EP's final track, is perhaps the most interesting piece on the record. Larsen have made a calculated and informed decision in handing the reins over to Origami Galaktika for this mix. Beginning under the mildest of guises, and creeping toward its chaotic and inevitable conclusion, this relentlessly bleak piece, more than anywhere else on HMKE, conveys the images of a snowy, ice-blasted wasteland. Additionally, it allows Julia Kent's gorgeous cello to stand prominently out of the mix. "E" is a fitting conclusion for a brief effort that has this reviewer waiting impatiently for the next one.

1. H
2. M
3. K
4. E

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