Larsen | Rever | Review | by Morty

...their music does justice to the spectacular near-legend...

It would be a minor tragedy if the story of how Larsen operates or how they came to be produced by Michael Gira were the only interesting thing about them. To my great satisfaction their music does justice to the spectacular near-legend of how Rever came to be. (I won't attempt to summarize the story, visit the Young God Records site for yourself and read about it). Over 10 hours of music was recorded for this release which clocks in at a little over 49 minutes. Ritualistic pieces have been trimmed for the obvious practical reasons as well as coherence and digestibilty. I'm more than envious of M.Gira for getting to experience first hand what this album "Rever" can only give us a glimpse of. What we do get to hear invokes the greatness of the Swans and Sonic Youth without ever coming off as a copy. The atmosphere is moody and dark much like Evol/Sister era Sonic Youth or Great Annihilator era Swans though more subdued than any of them. The song "Maya" has an on and off guitar droning very similar to Sonic Youth's "Stereo Sanctity" (on Sister) and at various other times they sound much like later SY guitar noise. The vocals and layered space are much more reminiscent of Swans material. Larsen are distinct and these comparisons merely place them in good company and they deserve to be in such company. Larsen create rhythmic soundscapes out of guitar, bass, drums, organs, tape loops, horns, and accordians. Repetition is the basis of "Rever" but instead of redundant the music has a meditative quality as well as a knack for dramatic tension-filled build ups not-unlike mogwai or godspeed. However, unlike those bands, Larsen lets the tension build for a long time but opts for subtlety when it all falls away into a delicate melody rather than a climax. The band might wander through splashes of italian folk sounds composed of swelling accordian and quivering horns or the crackling of white noise and tape loops before finding grooves they will stick with for many minutes. They might also burst right into a droning guitar piece and only to let up after some time suddenly to the scraping of a pick across muted strings. Althoug mainly instrumental there are vocals on "Rever" and they operate just like the instruments, rhythmic and repetitive. For me they serve only as texture since the words are either inaudible or in Italian (and Spanish possibly). They vary from seductive female whispers accompanied by the smacking and popping of saliva, to deep, moaning chants, to quiet specks of sound at the tips of intense breaths. If you're at all interested in forward moving and creative guitar driven music, or merely satisfying and creative music, I suggest you keep an eye on Larsen and the rest of the Young God line-up. I'm convinced that anything Michael Gira would be involved in (Swans, Angels of Light, Calla, etc) is more than worth paying attention to.