Larsen - Play (Full Length)
2015 vinyl version now available. White vinyl version limited to 100 copies and includes a screen printed poster signed by all members of the group.
Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo: guitar, bass, keys, vocals, harmonium
Marco Schiavo: drums, xylophone, vocals
Paolo Dellapiana: accordion, keys, bass, vocals
Roberto Maria Clemente: guitar, vocals
Julia Kent: cello (Antony & The Johnstons/Devendra Banhart )
Marco Milanesio: electric piano, keys
Matt Howden: violin
Paul Beauchamp: Synth
To say that Larsen is mysterious or elusive is an understatement. They are are so elusive, in fact, that Micheal Gira of The Swans/Angels Of Light fame once said of Larsen, "I worked intimately with the band for three weeks, but I never saw their faces." Perhaps the finest description of their sound came from a perceptive, if not overly wordy, Italian music journalist who described them as an 'Italian-cult-collective-urban-folk-ritual-experimental soundscape-wall of love band.'” It’s all true.
Larsen’s sound is equally as ambiguous as any attempt to describe them, imagine elements of Einsturzende Neubauten, The Swans, Barbez, Six Organs of Admittance, Vibracathedral Orchestra and Godspeed, You Black Emperor!. Play, the brilliant new album, sounds like all of these influences processed through the Larsen main brain on heavy doses of Autechre. Yes, Autechre. Really.
As an excercise preceding the writing of Play, Larsen spent a lot of time as a group improvising around some of their favorite melodies from Autechre albums. This experimental excercise slowly evolved into song writing and suddenly songs were coming out of the air with Autecherian melodies filtered through climactic Larsen arrangements. Play is a collection of Larsen “suites” where hints of Autechre drift as inspiring ghosts rather than constituent matter. According to Larsen, they attempted to create curvilinear, not angular, interpretations of these melodies in an electric way, not an electronic way, with the eclectic instrumentation regular in Larsen’s arrangement. As they planned, they failed perfectly at covering Autechre, creating a hauntingly erruptive and droned-out Larsen masterpiece in the process.
Larsen was formed in 1993 in Torino, Italy. A debut album, No Arms, No Legs: Identification Problems produced by Martin Bisi (Brian Eno, Sonic Youth, White Zombie, Swans, Dresden Dolls and many many others) was released in 1997. Their second album Rever was produced by Michael Gira (Swans, Angels Of Light) and came out in 2002 on Gira’s Young God label, garnering them considerable critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. England's prestigious music journal The Wire said: "...they center their songs around the dynamics of multiple guitars, which may erupt in buzzsaw staccato and then glide into sublime arpeggiated chords...."
Despite pursuing a self-imposed professional anonymity, Larsen have toured Europe extensively, appearing on bills with Neurosis, Breach and Crash Worship, Ulan Bator, Unsane, Michael Gira, My Cat Is An Alien, Allun, Ronin and The Living Jarboe, Einsturzende Neubauten . Additionally, they have worked collectively or with their side project people as Joseph Budenholzer's Backworld, Damo Suzuki, Lydia Lunch, Coil/Black Sun Production, Sikhara and HR Giger. The group’s soundtrack work to Winsor McCay’s animated films, Cartoanimalettimatti, won a “Best of Show” award at the Harlock/Rimusicazioni Festival in Italy.
Look for the solo release from Larsen's Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo on Important as well as the Larsen/Xiu Xiu collaboration.
"Play perhaps surpasses what we thought was a pretty brilliant debut. As with Rever, Play is a largely instrumental, slowly unfolding, mesmerizing, multi-part epic of both tranquility and power, anchored in hypnotic drum-grooves and bathed in delicate instrumental textures. However inspired, it's Larsen that has done the hard work here of constructing such a moody monument." ~ Aquarius Records, SF record of the week for the week of 1.24.05 ~ Aquarius Records, San Francisco
"...somewhat inspired by Autechre's music, is even more austere than their previous album 'Rever,' veering towards the aesthetics of free-form glitch electronica while retaining the post-rock format. The breadth and scope of their pieces is awe-inspiring. The album as a whole sounds like an encyclopedia of new music. Larsen, who had already proven to be a volcano of innovative ideas, now contend for the title of most erudite post-everything ensemble. One can only blame them for being too ambitious." ~ Piero Scaruffi
"The 4 guitar notes, repeated ad nauseam, that open the first track of the album mark a boundary between who appreciates and who hates Larsen. I love them and I can tell you this is their best album ever. Slow as a steamboat. Musical as the birds in the morning. Mindfucking as a museum of blasphemous art." ~ Giacomo Spazio Mojetta in D di Repubblica
"...Larsen's Rever makes 'JOHN PAYNE'S 100 MUSICAL BIASES 2002'" ~ LA WEEKLY
"If you're troubled by the retrograde state of guitar-based music, Larsen warrants your attention...." ~ All Music Guide
"This is the soundtrack for bad dreams and good nightmares, a strange, strange world." ~ Erasing Clouds
"If you are a fan of Swans, GSYBE, Young Gods or the Ilk, and you'd like to hear what those bands would sound like softened at the edges and slowed down to a steady pace, this may be for you. Think of those bands merged with a dash of Low's melancholic, melodic slow-core, and you have Larsen. A pleasant meeting all around." ~ Musicspork
"REVER is something of a catharsis amplifying one’s emotion and changing his mood exactly when needed. One track will make you feel tense, the next one will soothe you at exactly the moment you want to be soothed. There is nothing superfluous in here, only what is absolutely necessary. The only thing this album is not going to make you think of is happiness: there is a constant sadness, some sort of melancholy underlining the music from start to finish. Just what I need, just what I love.The recording process was peculiar, so is the band and so is their music. A wonderful record if you’re not afraid to dare trying it." ~ Musiquemachine
"God, this is beautiful. Tense, frightening ambient landscapes of static and accordion looped in on themselves, with the occasional nonsensical vocals that come across as religious chants from a post-apocalyptic choir...I can't play it while my kid is home, and so nerve-racking that it actually makes me nauseous. I'm going to buy everything this band ever puts out." ~ Preamp
"Nino Rota gone goth, or the Italian counterpart to The Swans? You be the judge.” ~ Waterfront Week
"Larsen had worked and worked themselves into the core of the rhythm and sounds they generated. Often, a groove would begin with a certain feel, then transmute entirely by the time they'd wrung the essence of it into it's final shape, which is what you hear, in edited form, on this CD. That's why I say they're like field recordings in a way, to me they're excerpts from a sound/ceremony that was ongoing, documented by a (hopefully) non-invasive stranger...." ~ Michael Gira (Swans/Angels Of Light/Young God Records)
“the dream of a shadow which could be the feedback of your own emotions with a certain unique and strong quality.” ~ Blow Up Magazine