Denmark’s Lars Graugaard is a prolific and chameleon-like pioneer whose background lies in a very contemporary mix of musical styles that include classical, contemporary, improvised and urban. The Lars from Mars moniker lets him move with ease between a variety of musical areas ranging from abstract and demanding sonic statements to effortless, street-smart rhythm designs. And holding a MA in music performance and a PhD in interactive music allows him to explore a unique, novel and at times innovative take on electronic music in computer code and performance. His main interest is real-time generated music which he practices in multiple settings.
The music on Americanino has a strong grounding in rhythms, which at times is combined with quite abstract and far-fetched sound worlds. The release makes use of various generative trends and techniques generative techniques in Lars’ self-programmed performance tool, with which he creates a unique and appealing experimental electronica. Inspirations range from Temperley’s research into probabilistic melody generation, various musical rule systems and temporal organization that frees speed from time which allows for non-obvious organization and transformation of the jazzy techno-inspired structures.
Lars has for several years used the computer as his instrument, and he continuously programs and develops it according to his varying musical needs. Everything coming from his laptop is generated in real-time – no musical phrases, groupings or section are pre-recorded – and this allows him to have various ways to instantly create, guide and affect musical expressions. To achieve this, he incorporates the most recent insight into human cognition and meaning-making in sound into his programming, but it is only the point-of-departure for an improvisatory and instantaneous creation of a music that is rich and intriguing yet easily appreciated by the naked ear.
Compositions by Lars Graugaard
Produced summer 2014 in Denmark and Spain
Recorded, edited, mixed and mastered by Lars Graugaard
Cover artwork by Sofia Asunción Claro
An interesting match of minimal techno and mathematical functions – I wonder why some reviewers are still reluctant to accept the association of the adjective “intelligent” to the label “dance music” – came out of Clang’s catalogue from Danish producer, programmer and sonologist Lars Graugaard. His passion for David Temperley’s research into probabilistic melody generation (if you don’t already know about this, read the essay “Music and Probability” to get an idea what he is thinking of), musical rule systems and temporal morphing hints at how he instils mathematical knowledge on digital sequencing and music software by means of Matlab, Lisp or MAX for performing in real-time on his laptop, making no use of pre-packed phrases, groupings or overdubs. The unusual way by which he injects smartly crafted sounds and computational melodies stand out over the four tracks of this digital release. I particularly enjoyed the title track Americanino, whose twisting micro-techno groove trawls the brain of mad scientist for resonating electrons, and Drawn and Quartered where a sort of embryonic breakbeat blends with a crude, fruity-loopish groove underneath a free jazz-like synth-piano jam. But also Later That Night and Decay and Slip are nice examples of the above-mentioned matching. Have a listen!
Recently put on the circuit via the rather experimental Clang imprint is Americanino, the latest output by the Danish producer Lars Graugaard under his obscure Lars From Mars moniker. With four tracks covering a total of approximately 25 minutes on this digital EP, Americanino explores the realms of dry and unsettled MinimalTechno that goes way beyond and partly even ignores the requirements of a heaving crowd as it adds layer upon layer of quirky percussions and twisted, brain-melting PostDetroit melodies. Check out the title track in particular for this, whereas the closing tune Drawn And Quartered even includes Drum’n’Bass reminiscing Breakbeats, a very ravey bassline and some FreeJazz induced piano / synthesizer jams. A well fascinating album this one is.
Behind the somewhat frivolous project name Lars From Mars hides the trained sonologist Lars Graugaard who has made a strong, even resounding name for himself over several years as a pioneer of a fresh take on real-time generated sounds. The four compositions on Americanino offer an enjoyable tension between fluffy danceable rhythms and casually interspersed chance happenings that effortlessly fuse everything together. The hit track Later That Night should since long have been included in the rotation of yet to be discovered lounges. It is simply amazing how Lars Graugaard (and not only on this track) manages to draw attention to himself without any heavy or intrusive dominance. “At Clang we take adventurous music beyond the confinement of the experimental community.” In this sense, we hope to hear a lot more from this label.
When it comes to systems and why many of them just work – even on the dance-floor – is still a mystery to me, even after years of analysis. Ironically, the exciting and obliquely jazzy and insistently technoid noise orgy from a gray-bearded Danish sonologist with a doctorate in Interactive music, a background in classical composition and the silly pseudonym Lars From Mars sure enough and even upon the first listen leads to the spastic twitches of an imminent heartattack. I’ll be happy to believe the PR managers that he is just as at home in the club as in academic circles. Americanino is the new release from Lars Graugaard, available as download only but really is a classic 12”. It contains four tracks that are all pretty great, my highlight is the final Drawn & Quatered – digital, adventurous jazz-techno with both enough bang and brains to satisfy everybody.