The well studied Lars Graugaard offers four compositions under his casual moniker Lars from Mars. All in an enjoyable tension between fluffy danceable rhythms and casually interspersed chance happenings, they effortlessly fuse everything together in a match all of its own in minimal techno and mathematical functions.
But it is not a work you can readily pin down. Covering a total of approximately 33 minutes the release explores the realms of dry and unsettled techno that goes way beyond and partly even ignores the requirements of a heaving crowd as it adds layer upon layer of quirky percussion and twisted, brain-melting melodies.
Constantly shifting and in eternal flux, no two bars are entirely alike as the music builds and sounds evolve and transform. Lars injects smartly crafted sounds and computational melodies in unusual ways, as twisting micro-techno grooves trawl the brain for resonating electrons. By the end you may wonder just how you arrived at the final destination – but not that it really matters, as this music is just as much about the journey itself.
Lars uses the computer as his instrument exclusively, which he programs according to his needs. It is not too obvious when it comes to mathematical functions and systems why many of them just seem to work, but on Persect it is of vital importance that the system is a manageable digital organism that can be shaped and guided on the spot, as if it was a musical instrument.
Everything coming from the laptop is generated in real-time – no musical phrase, grouping or section is pre-recorded – and this allows Lars to shape, form, guide, affect and instantly create musical textures and expressions. In order to achieve this, he incorporates the most recent insight into human cognition and meaning in music and sound into his programming. This then becomes the point-of-departure for a music that is rich and intriguing yet easily appreciated by the naked, though curious ear.
At first I was rather averse to the sports-car noises because I expected it to reveal a ghastly 90s type techno-rave rubbish. But lo and behold: Lars Graugaard has programmed some playful Groove-Tech patterns (if such a sub genre indeed exists) and proceeds to tease out some very raw, edgy beats that at times are reminiscent of Actress. Persect will not meet everyone’s taste and it will not become consensus material on the techno floors. But that does not appear to be what Graugaard wants anyway. Very experimental, very entertaining.
Listening to this release by Lars From Mars and knowing nothing about the person you could imagine a young man, possibly a Berliner, as the protagonist. Here we have an electronic beat that is both highly experimental and very sturdy, in the wake of the most demanding parts of Mouse On Mars or the recent work of Jan St. Werner. But after some research on the web one finds instead an elderly, bearded and distinguished Danish gentleman, namely the PhD, musician and flutist Lars Graugaard with recordings that go as far back as the distant 1982, and reviewed earlier this year here in Rockerilla with his work together with Keisuke Matsuno. Lars From Mars is his digital alter ego with which he explores self-built software that leads to a genuine shift of scenery as our perception wobbles through four lengthy tracks that relentlessly push on in their incessant experimentation. INVINCIBLE. Gianluca Polverari
Composed, performed, mixed, edited and mastered by Lars Graugaard January 2015 and February-March 2016 in Santiago, Chile
Instrumentation is a laptop running Max
Artwork by Vladyslav Kamenskyy
The Danish Martian Lars Graugaard uses the laptop exclusively for his music and, contrary to what you might imagine upon hearing it, he is not exactly a rookie: approaching his seventies he comes out of academic circles and embodies the experience of dozens of ‘learned’ compositions that range from classical score-writing to contemporary improvisation. With “Persect” he operates within techno but do not take this digital download for an occasional diversion. On the contrary, as the musician applies the same concept of sound bodies that he uses elsewhere (see the section altrusuoni in this issue), the only difference being the constancy of the techno rhythms that underlie them: amusing and intense (Felipe), obsessively repeating (Conflated), pierced by jazzy neon lights (Next Junction), lush afro (Quick Turn). The rich and highly detailed music that Graugaard sets on top of his bass lines are computer processes that sound and behave as traditional instruments while having fresh, electronic timbres: improvisations, solos, rebounds, bridges, mirror games, evaginations. The result is a kind of techno-mutant improvisation that is fun and fanciful, constantly changing and surprisingly psychedelic, danceable and humorous.
Scheduled for release via Clang as the label’s cat.no. 043 on June 17th, 2k16 is “Persect”, the latest four track EP outing created by Lars Graugaard under his casual production alias Lars From Mars, aiming to fuse Minimal Techno and mathematical functions (sic!) over the course of 33 minutes playing time. And although this combination of numbers science and dancefloor functional structures might sound a little odd at first things seem to be falling in place for some reason, even though tracks like the opening tune Felipe are constantly shifting and changing from bar to bar, proving that constant repetition and slow variation is not a necessity for club functional music – at least not when we’re talking hyped late night crowds and an implied supply of special k.
Interestingly, the opener also caused a weird feeling of motion sickness and light nausea when consumed on headphones, similar to some specific LFO filters. With Conflated we’re getting closer to a straight Minimal Techno feel which, due to its level of abstraction and constant mutation, could also be pigeonholed as TechnoJazz and will surely be well appreciated by fans and followers of producers like Matthew Herbert as well. Next Junction focuses on ever shifting low frequencies and a seemingly improvised synth melody jam accompanied by chirping, high frequency laser beams and the final cut Quick Turn comes across as a lovely and masterly crafted mutation of a dry’n’raw Minimal Techno vs. piano jam that’s also well-relatable to lovers of deep and pumping House music. Techno-not-Techno; much?