Larva is one of those albums which is a reviewers dream. So much music follows firm templates and, good as it may be, from a review point of view you are often just reworking the same language and over used descriptions, into slightly new forms. Larva is not like that. It is sweeping, ephemeral, restrained and elegant. In short, it is gorgeous. And that’s my point, I have already slipped into the sort of descriptions which I would never get away with when confronted by the usual three minute pop workout or a bedroom rapper armed with a set of beats and a working knowledge of auto tuning.
But maybe that is unfair to pop music as Larva is built from everything not pop. It is built from classical grandeur, from drawn out strings, from both dark brooding menace and ethereal fragility, it is as much about the space between the notes, the anticipation and the atmospherics, the echo of the music as much as what is being played. It also takes its time, many songs, such as the opening Larissa, moving at almost glacial pace for over seven minutes but never once failing to carry the listener along with it.
It is not until track three, Clytaemnestra, that any form of beat is introduced, tribal, primal and brutish, wonderfully at odds with the classical sweeps and gentle piano motifs, adding claustrophobic intensity as it builds to a crescendo. Daphne, is the epitome of the spatial awareness of the record, piano notes often acting merely as heartbeats through the silence, again making the point in the most eloquent fashion that it isn’t about how many notes you play, how dexterous and full you make the music, sometimes the right singular note at the right moment of the song is more powerful than a whole album of showboating.
Tenebrae VII could be echos from deep space, the sound of glaciers moving or the musical ghost in the machine as a computer network learns how to make music, it is strange and beautiful, haunting and addictive. Like much of my favourite music, Larva goes beyond the limits of modern song, way beyond, it avoids conventional structures and expectations and just builds its own identity, beguiling and separate. It is both of the now, of the what might be and of the not quite remembered, a blend of classical tradition and shamanic channelling.
Timeless is a word that is much over used when applied to music, but here the perfectly named Floating Beauty does indeed fashion something timeless but also something without genre, location or direction. Why road sign your music for the listener, far better surely, to have them follow you off the beaten track with eyes full of wonder, open to adventure and ready to go with the flow?