2005 in Review
It hardly feels like we should be entering another new year in just a few days, as 2005 has come and gone without leaving much of an impression. Musically speaking, it's been a year spent writing songs and listening to them over and over trying to figure out where things are going and what we are saying with music. Empire was a fun diversion and gave me an excuse to indulge in my geekdom for a while and to hook up with Bong-Ra and Enduser for a fun pair of remixes, but it was not at all an indication of where I wanted to take things with Larvae. In fact, I had begun mapping out the trajectory of our next record before I got off on the tangent of working on Empire so the album that comes out next year will really capture over a year's worth of ideas and work, boiled down into a tiny little package.
I spent most of the year listening to music about as far away as the kind of stuff that I usually get associated with as possible. It wasn't a deliberate move away from noisy beats and breakcore and hard electronics, but I just found that after a couple of tours where I was immersed in all of that, I gravitated towards music that was much simpler, more direct, and a little more earth-bound. It was a good time for me to catch up on folk-tinged stuff like Akron/Family and Joanna Newsom, and records by Hope ForAGoldenSummer and Jessica Bailiff made more repeat rounds in my cd players than anything else. Even the electronic music I liked this year had a folky, home-spun edge to it, from Boards of Canada's spectacular new record to the stuff Randy Garcia released on Nophi. I spent most of the year disconnected from breakbeats and bass warps and sampladelica and more centered on music made with guitars and real drums and voices. Yes, voices seemed to be the name of the game for me, a return to music that works on an emotional level rather than something designed solely to move feet and nod heads.
I broke out my mainstay favorite album, Bowery Electric's unsurpassed masterpiece Beat on more occassions this year than any other since that record came out, and just in the last few weeks I got a copy of the Eau Claire record which is amazing and needs to be twice as long as it is. I also gave up my stuffy attitude towards Low and their insistence on certain themes and I found that I really love some of their recent music, the newest album included. Almost everything I was in the mood for involved some sort of fuzzy, warm guitar so I dusted off the one I have, bought a tuner, and tried to record a thing or two and I found that the guitar was a great new source of inspiration at times when the computer and all the sampling technology in the world just wasn't working.
2006 is going to be an interesting turning point for Larvae. The new record is almost finished, just waiting on vocals from some guests who have me more excited about this than anything else I've ever done in any band. We're going to have to figure out how to play this new material live without abandoning the guitar and voice aesthetic of a lot of it. We're going to have to find a way to keep people interested and hopefully entertained with material that's a lot more introspective and not as bombastic. Mostly it will be a time for sharing this new music with people and hoping that they can approach it with their ears and hearts rather than ideas about what we should be doing, or how we used to sound.
A guy wrote me all pissed about a review I wrote of his record this year and called Larvae "a mediocre drum n bass producer" which I thought was interesting since I was up to my neck in guitar loops and vocal mixing for songs clocking in at 85 bpm at the time. In some sense though, he was right--we've never been good at making drum n bass proper and so we've never tried. Even the most floor-friendly of our tracks is filled with all kinds of broken genre rules not because we like to stir it up, but because I just don't understand that world, and I don't listen to that kind of music. While I've been off with my weirdo folk records this year, Chris has been going to metal and screamo shows and while we both still like electronic music and are inspired by it in ways, it's not the focus of what we're trying to do now. The new record should put to rest any misconceptions that we are even trying to be related in any way to drum n bass, as there's only one song with anything that could be remotely labelled dnb and it's got a specific place and purpose on the record that should make our intentions clear.
2005 has been a weird year for me personally, full of some pretty terrific highs and terrifying lows and it's been a year where I finally gathered the courage to leave some things behind and move on with others. If anything, I think that's what the next record will be about--it's not so much driven by a theme as a state of mind. Thanks go out to everyone who's been a part of that state of mind this year, from the promoters of shows to the djs to the people listening to the myspace friends to anyone who's been involved or been paying attention--thanks!