Larsen
Play

Important
2005
B



hat frequently got lost amid the amazing back-story that preceded the release of Larsenís debut record for the Young God label was the music. The strange courtship of Michael Gira, the fact that they would never show themselves to him while he recorded their album, and the silk-cloth that sat between band and engineer were the main focus. And perhaps rightfully so. That being said, you could sit down with Rever and love it just the same without all that baggage.

Similarly audiences wonít benefit much from finding out that the groupís most recent recording Play, takes its inspiration from the melodies of Autechre. Thatís because they were used as mere jumping-off points and are stripped bare of the accompanying rhythmic bluster that typifies the IDM stalwartís sound. In fact, itís a curious choice for the band, considering Autechreís recent rejection of clear melody, in favor of the complexity of their rhythmic interests.

But as Larsen proved with Rever, they know how to develop a good melody from the ground up. Play is no exception. And the Autechre makes good sense when you take into account the fact that both bandís interests have always tended toward minor keys. ďEĒ is a perfect example. The song simmers for half of its eight-minute length, eventually boiling over into a guitar-led refrain that carries the song to its swirling climax (picking up violin, drums, and other guitar lines along the way.) Similar in tone, but not at all in length, the three-minute ďPĒ closes the album out on an accordionís dying breaths and a snake-like guitar line.

While Rever traded more in immediate tension and art-damaged punk leanings that often recalled Sonic Youth, Play is a much more sedate affair that sees the band slowly building tracks over time and rarely allowing them to explode in the way that most crescendo-core does. Instead, itís a slow-burn reminiscent of the way that Explosions in the Sky held off gratification on their most recent album.

Unlike that band, Larsenís tracks are fuller (synthesizer, accordion, violin, and voice all make appearances). But, crucially, theyíre no less emotionally taut. The slow builds always work towards a particular end, although itís not always clear what it will be and, as itís been said before here, the melodies are strong enough to leave you wanting little else along the way. In fact, the only thing left wanting at the end of album is the listener. Just a few more minutes of bliss next time, please?



Reviewed by: Sarah Kahrl

Reviewed on: 2005-02-11

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Posted 02/11/2005 - 11:16:42 AM by JRubleske:
 I think it's interesting that every review I've ever read of Rever and Play assumes the M Gira-as-Wizard-of-Oz story to be true. I doubt it went down like either party says it did; rather, it likely proved a better idea to create a mythology from a good story. Who knows? I could be wrong. But the way every reviewer seems to take the story at face value is worth noting.
 
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