Most of the time, articles about great music basically write themselves – the real challenge is writing about music that makes for an intriguing listening experience but is wildly difficult to pin down at the same time. Such is the case with Italian experimental quartet Larsen: their upcoming album Arrival Vibrate, which we’re premiering for your listening pleasure today, is both strange and intoxicating in its mixture of minimal music and trace amounts of post-punk, drone, industrial, ambient, noise, and post-punk. It’s what Soundtracks for the Blind-era Swans would sound like if they had even an ounce of chill or patience shared among them, or what Steve Reich would’ve produced if he had been into leather jackets and guitar-driven music back in the 60s. These are, of course, but insufficient approximations, although they do hint at what Larsen have to offer the open-minded listener.
Arrival Vibrate is already the band’s 17th release in almost 25 years of being active, conceived as a tribute to the late Z’EV; the whole piece was actually transcribed from one of his poems, which bears the same name. On the album, you can hear two different versions of this poem-by-way-of-experimental composition: one the band has recorded live at a benefit concert for Médecins Sans Frontières International at The National Museum Of Cinema in Torino, Italy, and one that has been remixed/enriched by musician/visual artist John Duncan, a mutual friend of the band and Z’EV. Listening to this piece will tell you why Larsen have been able to collaborate with big names such as Jóhann Jóhannsson, Michael Gira or Deathprod in the past, either on stage or on record.
You can stream Arrival Vibrate in full below:
On this recording, Larsen consists of Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo on guitar and electric viola, Marco Schiavo on drums, cymbals, and glockenspiel, Paolo Dellapiana on electronics, and Roberto Maria Clemente on guitar and shruti-box. All of these instruments play a role in this 25-minute song, albeit some more subtly than others. With experimental pieces such as this, I find that a big part of the fun lies in trying to pick apart the different layers and movements of the instrumentation, so I won’t spoil anything by doing just that right in front of you. What I will say, though, is that you should bring some patience going into Arrival Vibrate – as I hinted at earlier, it’s an engaging yet demanding experience.
Meanwhile, the song’s remixed version offers a second chance at witnessing this composition unfold, this time in a slightly altered fashion. Telling apart the differences between the two versions should prove to be an amusing pastime for keen ears. Says Duncan himself about the motives behind his remix:
‘The contribution I wanted to make was to enhance moments that seemed to call for more complexity, more presence, and most of all more of a congratulatory celebration of Z’EV‘s achievements, with the applause that was always so difficult for him to accept, as well as to be effectively invisible; like you hear the same music you heard before, but it’s like hearing it for the first time.‘
Important Records will release Arrival Vibrate on October 25, in two formats: cassette tape and digital download. The physical option can be ordered here, while the digital version is handled through Bandcamp. If you liked what you heard and read above, you should go and follow Larsen on Facebook, and maybe take a look at their official website as well while you’re at it.