Through five full-lengths, Hamburg-based Larman Clamor kept up a near-impossible clip. One might expect a creative burst of sorts from the likes of Alexander von Wieding, a noted graphic artist who’s done work across the heavy rock underground on covers and posters for the likes of Karma to Burn, Kind, this site, and many many more, but it seemed that especially since Larman Clamor functioned as a solo-project after its first, 2011 self-titled outing (review here), von Wieding was able to really let it flourish on his own terms. Those terms may vary, but under both the various EPs and singles that have supplemented and his proper albums — 2011’s Altars to Turn Blood (review here), 2012’s Frogs (review here), 2013’s Alligator Heart (review here), and 2014’s Beetle Crown and Steel Wand (review here) — he’s kept a consistent thread of otherworldly boogie blues, a swampy porch stomp, and though the break between has been longer, that’s maintained on his sixth offering, Beyonder, as well.
One can hear it in the early cut “Pig Priest and the Motor Hag,” as von Wieding layers banjo and acoustic guitar and provides his own percussion amid electric guitar flourish: He’s progressed, but the core of his approach to Larman Clamor is intact. Self-released digitally with a potential physical release to follow, Beyonder is the longest Larman Clamor record at 14 tracks/42 minutes — seven of which are dedicated to closer “In the Circus of Night” alone — and though many of the elements will be familiar to those who’ve dug into von Wieding‘s songwriting before and the songs were evidently born of some significant personal struggles, one finds some of the most striking moments to be almost playful in their nature. To wit, the way the opening title-track seems to beam Queens of the Stone Age‘s stop-start “Little Sister” riff in from another dimension, or how even beneath the sad story of “Something Bitter to Do,” the rhythm feels so vibrant and builds such momentum over a still-short three-minute run. Elsewhere, the hook of “Fo’ What You Did” taps darker impulses and turns them into one of Beyonder‘s catchiest hooks, von Wieding experimenting with falsetto vocals as he provides his own backups to his generally gruff delivery, and interludes like “The Draining,” “Come See…” and the instrumental “Tarnkappe” broaden the scope of the album overall with spoken narrative or even just an additional stretch toying with atmosphere.
Could well be that taking his time — relatively speaking — between one long-player and the next allowed von Wieding to further develop the rubber-band bounce of “Swamp Healing” and the tortured string-pull of “Haunted, Hexed, Let Down and Torn,” but from wherever the progression in scope comes, Beyonder is the most forward-thinking Larman Clamor album yet, and though von Wieding has clearly established his aesthetic across his six records, he’s just as clearly a restless soul within that, working to reshape what’s been done before. Long after the mud-psych of “And the Hand” and past the penultimate quietude of “All Wrongs are Right,” the plainest evidence of his creative evolution is found in “In the Circus of Night,” which narrates its way through an intertwining of worlds via mumbled discoveries pushed along by stomping feet, handclaps, foreboding drones and of course much more, building a tension that resolves itself in a rising hum of electric guitar tone that sounds just as much like a beginning as an ending. Which it may well be. We’ll have to wait to find out where von Wieding takes Larman Clamor from here, but the fact that even with a year between Beetle Crown and Steel Wand and Beyonder he’s produced six albums in five years with the project speaks to the significant measure of urgency with which he hones his craft. That, maybe even more than the boogie, is likely to remain the unifying factor no matter what else the next record brings.
Today I have the extreme pleasure of hosting a full stream of Larman Clamor‘s Beyonder as an album premiere. Release date is tomorrow, Dec. 24. Below, you’ll find a full track-by-track courtesy of von Wieding, who was kind enough to discuss his motivations and inspirations in how these songs came together.
Please dig in and enjoy:
Track-by-Track through Larman Clamor’s Beyonder with Alex von Wieding
Like every Larman Clamor riff, it came out of nowhere. Suddenly I had this punkish riff and thought: Damn, this doesn’t work for LC stuff… And then there was the idea of putting those two Thin Lizzy-ish solo guitars into the third quarter of the song — and I was even more like “Naah, c’mon… I guess I’ll have to start a second band for this”… But who was I to tell, ha. As the idea for the lyrics came up, it suddenly turned into a Larman Clamor song. And I thought, hey, this is so straight rockin’ and sorta-different (at least to me), why not go the whole nine yards and even make it the album title song? And there you go. So story-wise, there’s this paranoid wizard sitting in the heath wasteland and he puts one rock unto another in the river, making art. And even though he does know something bad might actually happen, he continues to create. Like manic at some point. Simply because what’s this life for if not to create. Create joy. Beauty. Art. Inspiration. Make your mark, come what may. And even if the wizard’s nemesis-esque creatures, the owl-priests (don’t ask me, I dunno), appear, he is facing his fate with something along the lines of “Even if you kill me now, you won’t be able to destroy what I’ve created in this life. My legacy will remain.”
2. “And the Hand”
A gloomy wanna-be-intstrumental. The fragment it’s based on is back from the Frogs era, but I finally found a place for bringing in my Danelectro Sitar. Yay. Because I suck at playing full chords, I decided to use it more like a drone-guitar. Which made the whole thing sound “vast” to me… Like a theme for a… wasteland. Maybe it’s the sort-of theme song for the world of Larman Clamor? I don’t know. Maybe I will know at some point. And because even wastelands are full of beauty, why not stroke them a little? You know. Give them a little love. Even in the biggest chaos, destruction and weirdness – at some point, beauty will reveal itself. You just have to be willing to look close enough. And care. So, there’s the hand caressing over the wasteland.
3. “Fo’ What You Did”
Originially turned up on the Blackwolfgoat / Larman Clamor split 7″ we did on H42 Records in 2015. And I’m very proud of that. That one was fun. The inspiration for the song wasn’t that much of fun though. I was scammed. But when I realized that it actually had been ME who maneuvered myself into that bad situation, being dumb, instead of wasting even more of my life’s energy on the shit, I rather gave it a smile and carried on. As The Dude says, “I can’t be worried about that shit. Life goes on, man.” That’s where the lyrics started from. In the end, atmospherically speaking, I guess it turned into a pretty (meant literally) dark song… Ha. So it sort of feels like the character in the song might be friendly waving when he tells us his story, but snipped his opponent’s nuts off before that anyways. Guess that’s a double ha.
4. “Pig Priest and the Motor Hag”
Also a song from the Frogs era. Finished this one a long time ago, but didn’t know what to do with it, as it was so furiously riffin’, it didn’t fit in anywhere 100 percent. When I added the dueling banjos, it suddenly all made sense. And it perfectly fit on this album. So there you go.
5. “Haunted, Hexed, Let Down ‘n’ Torn”
…Originally was a mean, mean song. But that didn’t fit the album theme anymore. Also one of the reasons why I layed ‘Beyonder’ to rest for a long time. At the bottom line, this song is another one of those “being given something bad and making the best out of it” songs on this album. The story in this one is something like a summoning ritual. But with a hint of Beetlejuice. Drawing a door unto the wall with chalk and wait for the ‘right’ person to stumble through to you, after you mumbled the correct incantation phrases. Come, dance with me!
Hey, a German title?! Yes, indeed. I always liked that word. Like a lot. And “magic hood” (the literal meaning) felt just lame. For instrumentals, I usually like to put on a strange title, one that makes your mind paint the picture to the song. But then, it’s a thin line. You wouldn’t want to give too much of a direction… So, I can’t really say much about this song, except for: “Tarnkappe.” That word’s cool sound should be inspiration enough.
7. “Swamp Healing”
You should never say never… But for the moment, I guess this song is the closest to ‘reduced oldschool blues guitar stomp on a porch by sundown’ I’ve done yet. Aside from the ritual aspect of the track (I’ve had it on my list to do a “ritual song” for a while), it’s simply about seeing the good things in life. Again. And anew. You may get down, and it may take some weirdo shit to get you up again sometimes, but in the end, when noticing all of that is rather stupid and funny (and that’s why it brings you up!) – you’ll get the essence of everything again: Get up, move on, enjoy life! It’s short enough! So go on, make the best out of it!
8. “Somethin’ Bitter to Do”
Also was on my ‘songs-to-do-list’ for some time: A “counting” song. Mourning over a broken heart can poison you. So, after some failed attepts and desperate measures and rituals, the character in this song decides to do something bitter. What exactly that is, I don’t know. Seems that he already cut out one heart (his own?)… Rock-bottom, put into a trash-can drums banjo stomp, executed with a smile.
9. “The Draining” / 10. “Soul Sane Juice”
A little one I wrote in the middle of a gloomy fall night. Nothing too deep. A song about an UFO landing and alien capture …maybe? The return of the “intro song” for LC. I wanted to do something like that again since “Lost Path Through the Mountains / Deep tn the Tar” (on Altars to Turn Blood).
11. “Come See…” / 12. “…Sighed the River of Larvas”
So I had this instrumental based on a breathing choir, mumbling some nonsense. The lyrics of “River” were never to make any sense, but at some point, it sounded like there’s a group of people rowing a boat… That’s when it took more shape. Maybe this is even the ghouls from “Caravan of Ghouls” (on Beetle Crown & Steel Wand) again. Who knows? Like the narrator at the beginning tells us, it’s no use hanging around and wasting your life away. In the end, the River of Larvas awaits us all. So you might as well get your ass up and do something of worth. Be creative. Row a boat on a river made of spaghetti… or larvas. Whatever.
13. “All Wrongs are Right”
You ever had one of those nights, where you find yourself alone and can’t be with the one you love? But it’s not sad or anything, it all feels right? It’s like a test. You know you love her and you know she loves you. You just can’t be together right now. No matter why. The ‘why’ is neither of importance nor of to be taken care of. So you just center your spirit and go on an astral journey to your loved and loving soulmate…
14. “In the Circus of Night”
Even if I spoil something here: This is a revamp of an old song if you didn’t notice. It’s in the same tradition as “Aether Bound” (on Alligator Heart) or “My Lil’ Ghost” on Beetle Crown & Steel Wand). I’ve had that riff flying around my head since 1997. And this finally is THE song made of it. Instead of making it into a straight blues song (what the riff itself might scream for), I rather wanted it to be sort of otherworld-ish romantic. Imagine one of these nights, when spring turns to summer. And you’re strolling around alone, out in the fields, when a smooth breeze comes up. And it’s warm. Suddenly. Strangely warm, being the first real summer breeze. And then the magic appears, making the night a circus. And it’s all around you, with its weedy scents of the night flowers awaking, the cicadas singing and the moon and starlight guiding you onto your way into the wild… And it more becomes a real “circus” when suddenly — in the Larman Clamor cosmos, a path surrounded by fiery lights appears, and at the end of it, a real big top shows up… And there’s these strange figures inviting you in to enjoy their show, the main character being a Mephisto-ish mesmerist guy… You don’t know what he’s up to… but you follow him… into the Circus of Night.