The alarm went off three times this morning. Each one was more painful than the last. Even as I type this, I’m still burping last night’s wine. So of course, when it came time to pick a track for this week’s Wino Wednesday, “Dying Inside” by Saint Vitus was an obvious pick. The song’s a little more tragic than I feel about it — I got my standard greasy breakfast sandwich, took some ibuprofen, drank some coffee and the recovery is well under way — but I wasn’t far off from “I have ruined my soul” when I hit snooze for the second time.
This footage was filmed in 2010 in Hamburg, and I’ve posted other clips from the same show before, because they kick ass and because they’re pro shot. “Dying Inside” comes off 1986′s ultra-classic Born too Latealbum and is just one of that record’s several anthems, along with the title-track and “The War Starter.” And, you know, all the rest. The lyrics make it a standout, though, written with Dave Chandler‘s classic no-bullshit ethic and delivered — in this clip and every time I’ve seen them play it — with visceral conviction by Wino.
So yeah, while I continue to get my head together and face the rest of this afternoon, please enjoy “Dying Inside” and have a happy Wino Wednesday:
Posted in Reviews on September 10th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Previously known only as V, the lone contributor to Larman Clamor’s boogie-ready assault of darkened Americana has pulled back the veil of mystery and revealed himself to be none other than Hamburg-based artist Alexander von Wieding, whose work has graced album covers from Karma to Burn, Trouble, Cortez and Nuclear Assault as well as Wo Fat, Lo-Pan, Mangoo, Sun Gods in Exile, Infernal Overdrive and countless others from the Small Stone Records discography. It should probably come as little surprise, then, that Small Stone (who’ve hit a point in their regularity of releases as to be more or less a permanent fixture around here) has signed on for the release of Larman Clamor’s second full-length collection of weirdo psych blues, Frogs. The album follows last year’s course-setting Altars to Turn Blood LP (review here) and self-titled EP (review here), and though I wrote the same in the bio for the release, I have no hesitation to note that it’s von Wieding’s best and most atmospherically solid collection yet. To his and the album’s benefit, the multi-instrumentalist/vocalist keeps it short, but over the course of Frogs’ 31 minutes and 11 tracks, he nonetheless develops a full-length flow — more even than the last time around – while also keeping the songs memorable within themselves. The unquestionable standout of the bunch is “The Mudhole Stomp,” which is as fitting a description of the Larman Clamor sound as I’ve heard, but von Wieding’s alternate-universe garage swamp blues makes for several such highlights, shifting into a moody midsection only to revive the barnyard boogie later on in the album’s second half. Greater incorporation of gritty electric guitar soloing amid the sometimes central, sometimes companion acoustic grooves and the perpetual threat of a far-back organ melody make Frogs just as dangerous as anything Larman Clamor has released to this point, and though the depth of arrangement has deepened, the project has maintained the sense of rawness central to the authenticity of its presentation. That is, if Larman Clamor went prog, it wouldn’t work. It needs to be this stripped down. It needs to sound like there’s one man behind it, hooked up to however many noisemaking contraptions he might be.
That said, one wonders what even a song like the opening title-track might sound like with some layer of unexpected percussion behind it – some pans being banged on, for example, or even the smack of two bricks into each other – in time with the track’s irresistible get-down pulse. The rhythm is no less effective for their absence, von Wieding leading the way (his own way, that is) with a George Thorogood-esque start-stop guitar and sundry grunts about the frogs coming into his house. I had no idea Hamburg had amphibian issues, but climate change is a bastard and at this point I’ll believe anything. Like all of Larman Clamor’s output to date, “Frogs” effectively contrasts its urban origins with countrified swagger, and in any case, von Wieding isn’t the first city boy in the world to sing about the swamp. He does it well, and “Seven Slugs o’ Mud” might not bring Frogs past five minutes into its total runtime, but the opening duo has enough movement in it to break a sweat nonetheless, quickly establishing and pushing forward within a heavy momentum punctuated by tambourine and a continuingly appropriate thematic of all things slimy, cold-blooded and found in or around pondscum. “Seven Slugs o’ Mud” is fuller sounding, bordering on some of von Wieding’s appreciation for Tom Waits – the organ would put it over the top on that regard, but it’s not to be – and makes a solid setup for the contrast that the instrumental minimalism of “Mill Wheel Alchemy” provides, acoustic guitar providing both melody and rhythm in a series of taps and strums that lead to thicker, fuzzier electrics, loosely, vaguely riffed behind a mounting solo that one imagines played through a busted old amp in the woods, far away from any ears but those of the tape machine onto which it was recorded. If Frogs establishes anything, it’s von Wieding’s prowess as a guitarist. As the sole instrumentalist, vocalist and songwriter in all of Larman Clamor, he leaves himself room to handle a bit of soulful lead work in the record’s more atmospheric stretches, “Mill Wheel Alchemy” being one of them, before “The Mudhole Stomp” offers Frogs’ most potent take on the bizarre balance in the band’s sound between gravely-delivered blues and psychedelic grooving.
Posted in Reviews on November 2nd, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
A mere six months after the release of their self-titled debut EP, the apparently-well-motivated German outfit Larman Clamor returns with the inevitable follow-up full-length, Altars to Turn Blood. Perhaps even more impressively, they do so having lost one of their two members. Following the somewhat mysterious departure of drummer, organist and engineer R, Larman Clamor is down solely to guitarist, vocalist and visual artist V. You wouldn’t know it from the sound of Altars to Turn Blood — and in fact R might actually be on the record; the timing on his departure isn’t quite clear – which is as fully conceived and realized as was the EP, with an even bolder and crisper blend of gospel, blues, psychedelically-tinted Americana and throaty incantations. The atmosphere is nearly all swamp, and Larman Clamor seem to revel in breathing that moist air, rejoicing with Baptist fervor in arrangements of foreboding acoustic guitar, subdued moments leading to bombast, the occasional interjection of distortion, organ, hand-claps, etc. Arrangement-wise, Altars to Turn Blood is complex, but Larman Clamor do well to also make it cohesive, so that the record is never especially out of balance where it doesn’t mean to be, and where clarity of sound never comes at the sacrifice of natural feel, and vice versa.
Because the arrangements are varied however stylistically consistent the songs might be, Altars to Turn Blood is best heard at least once on headphones. There are some parts that are just so quiet, so intimate, that proximity between speakers and ears actually comes to matter as it rarely does. Whether it’s the organ whistle underscoring the late-arriving “Handful of Hex” or the Delta swing of centerpiece “Limb Creek Boogie,” there’s something to be said for embracing the live feeling Larman Clamor create and making the listening experience as personal as possible. You don’t have to close your eyes, but it might help. It’s also worth noting that, at just under 25 minutes, Altars to Turn Blood is an almost unspeakably-quick listen, but that too winds up working to the record’s advantage. There’s no way it’s anything less than a full-length album. The nine songs express a complete structural and atmospheric idea and with each audible clicking on and off of the tape recorder, you’re re-immersed in the naturalistic feel; the tape hum feels always present in the sparse moments, somehow enhancing even the chant-backed 36-seconds of “Lost Path through the Mountains.” The album opens with its title-track, which also winds up being one of the more raucous moments, the layered distorted whispers of the titular line adding more than a modicum of danger to the forceful strumming and percussive build. Blown-out yelling, glass bottle banging, guitars, bongos, and, finally, release with laughter, and Altars to Turn Blood is under way. “Lost Path through the Mountains” is underscored by what sounds like banging on the side of an acoustic guitar, and that leads right into the electrified “Deep in the Tar,” which is no less rhythmic.
It’s here that Larman Clamor inject their bluesy take with a bit of love for the heavy: That riff is simply undeniable. Layered vocals result in a highlight cut and one of Altars to Turn Blood’s most lasting impressions, but most of all, what the song does is teem with an energy that’s both unbridled and restrained. There’s just something about “Deep in the Tar” that feels like it wants to punch you in the face, which makes the turn into the masterfully subdued beginning of “Woven From Blood” all the more impressive. V adopts a dry-throated vocal worthy of Scott Kelly for the first verse, but the song soon develops backing vocals, distorted guitar, organ and hand-claps to go with its heavy-footed, ultra-simple initial percussion line. At a sprawling 4:14, “Woven From Blood” is the longest song on Altars to Turn Blood, and really, it’s a full-length unto itself at that point. A bluesy guitar solo weeds its way in at around three minutes, and the next minute morphs into a jam that could last another 10 and I wouldn’t have complained. But as much as the band has going on, there’s nothing on these songs that feels superfluous, and 10 minutes of indulgently riding out the same part probably would be, so kudos to the band for moving directly forward into the get-up-out-your-chair “Limb Creek Boogie,” and keeping the album as lean as possible. This kind of guitar line I always associate with John Lee Hooker, but you could probably find other electric blues sources as well, and probably someone better suited to make the connection. Either way, the acoustic slide guitar that seems to come out of nowhere to end the track nonetheless provides suitable transition into “Great Plains Lizard Priest,” which in turn capitalizes on the elements that Larman Clamor have managed – in just 13 minutes, mind you – to turn into “familiar.”
Posted in On the Radar on April 20th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
In the interest of continuing to use On the Radar to spread the word on cool and interesting new acts I actually dig, I humbly present Hamburg, Germany, duo Larman Clamor, whose project seems to be drawing the long line between drunken gospel and heavy rock, injecting some demented psych and garage blues along the way. Their first, self-released, self-titled EP is available now for listening on Bandcamp, on Facebook, and most conveniently, on the player below.
Comprised of the singly-lettered R (drums, organ and engineer) and V (guitar, vocals and art), Larman Clamor‘s sound is both busy and subdued. A drunken preacher stumbling down a rain-soaked road in the middle of the night might start belting out Larman Clamor opener “Ghost Daze & Rhythm,” which is one of two tracks on the demo with handclaps. The songs are diverse in their approach, but consistent in atmosphere, and there’s even a bit of humor (there just has to be) driving the vocals on “Drone Embassy.” It’s a quick release, and there’s an awful lot going on stylistically, but Larman Clamor‘s warped sensibility makes the EP fascinating from the start.
Fans of the experimental and terminally weird will want to check out the tracks, and consider yourself as doing so with my recommendation. Another cool band taking disparate genre elements and making something of their own from them, I look forward to hearing what Larman Clamor do next.