Urna are a band that don’t want a genre that would have them as a members, and the Larvae cassette is what the tape-drone generation has been promising for a long, long time; I was beginning to think it was never going to happen, but here it is: The Perfect Drone. Larvae is as minimal as the artform gets without slipping into anonymity, especially during Side A’s untouchable opening stretch, yet you’d never want them to add a single thing. It’s like diet CVLTS enlisting in the German Army then getting molested by Pink Priest, or Esoterica Landscapes 7 holing up with They Were Wrong, So We Drowned-era Liars and Born Without Bones on an island while you record 1,000 miles away. I wouldn’t normally mention Locrian as a direct pulse-point, but they’re affiliated and their experiments often veer into similarly charred territory, particularly their recent collab with Mamiffer (now that we’re going down that road, House Of Low Culture, too, leave prints).
The soundtrack of 2001: A Space Odyssey gets bandied about a lot these days (as do horror-film soundtracks and such), to the point where the reference is utterly meaningless. But that’s what stretches of Larvae conjures, right down to the evil choirs and the tension-building space-drain. It’s like dread picking the pockets of eternal loneliness in the alley of despair, the genie-lamp bells and percussion of “Rakshasa” (listen above) and other interludes offering glints of light that only render the blacks darker and the grays thicker and gloomier.
It’s easy to fall asleep to sections of Larvae, but that not because of boredom. It’s because the glops of pure spatial blackness are enveloping your every sense; when you re-emerge, it will have left its imprint.
Even the in-between moments are enchanting, especially when the Fantastic Planet flutes (another movie reference, I know) and slow, aquatic rumbles nestle lovingly in with lonely tones and sound-bones to form a string of sensual drift that softly builds momentum until the ghosts arrive. One those prickly fuckers start whale-calling and uttering smoky mechanical growls there’s too much menace to ignore. At this junction we realize “drone” is more of a launching point for this project, drunken as it is on opium-den smoke ribbons and hand-drum etiquette.
Strangely enough I actually prefer the rudderless tracks to the more percussive ones, not a preference I typically find myself gravitating toward where long-form tape adventures are concerned. Never turn your back on this record; you think you have its number, then it shapeshifts again and you miss what just transpired and vow to return to it, but by the time you remember to do it the tape has auto-flipped and you’re back where you want to be all over again, all over again, all over again.