Larsen | Rever | Review

The Wire | Jim Haynes

The incredible story of how Larsen's Rever came into being verges on the stuff of urban legend.

But the source of the tale is the album's producer Michael Gira, an unlikely suspect in the arena of public deceit. After receiving a series of arcane CD-Rs from an Italian art collective cum hermetic cult called Larsen, Gira was offered big money and a plane ticket to Italy to produce their next album. Intrigued, he took Larsen up on the offer and headed to Italy. Upon his arrival, Gira was never allowed to see the group, who shrouded themselves in the studio behind a screen and communicated with him only through their assistants. From what he could ascertain from the assistants¹ broken translations, Larsen¹s actions were like some ceremonial rite. Correspondingly, Gira felt less like an active producer than a passive field recordist.

Yet Larsen¹s liturgical music for these unknown rites suggests a group who are far more interested in Sonic Youth than the archetypes of ceremonial musics. Like other American projects such an Unwound and Blonde Redhead, they center their songs around the dynamics of multiple guitars, which may erupt in buzzsaw staccato and then glide into sublime arpeggiated chords. Often in forceful minor key chords, their guitars interlock into pulsing math-rock grooves, counterpointed with accordions, trumpet blurts, mechanical tape whirrings, tectonic rumbles and other rich textural elements. Even in his role as an observer, it is clear that Gira did hold a considerable influence over their majestic yet strangled sound, either as a musical influence or possibly as the designer who fitted the album together as a unified whole. For such a process holds more than a few similarities to how Gira constructed Swans¹ The Great Annihilator.