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Larval biography
If you wondered what sound would have a band merging the post rock sound with an avant-garde approach, then Larval is what you were looking for.

The Detroit based band Larval was formed by Bill Brovold (Rhys Chatham) and Erik Gustafson (Blue Dog) in 1995. Their musical interchange was fruitful and included various ideas ranging from free-form jazz to country music as is stated in their myspace. They were soon joined by Beth Wilusz (guitar), Dean Western (bass) and Wil Osler (drums). This lineup however did not make it through and in 1998 they disbanded and Brovold created the second incarnation with Toby Summerfield (guitar), Josh Tillingast (bass), Colin Stetson (saxes), Marko Smith (drums) and Mike Smith (violin). This however was not a stable lineup and was subject to many changes (Zeena Parkins for instance) and the current lineup is:
Kurt Zimmerman (violin, guitar), Gregg Courtney (guitar), Scott (drums), DJ (bass), Bill Brovold (guitar and other stuff) and then there are guests on saxes and other instruments.

As for music, they have been comparisons made with "Glenn Branca, Godspeed You Black Emperor! King Crimson" and yet, while those ingredients can be traced in the music, the result is all Larval's/Brovold's original creation that can be heard and experienced. They have so far 5 albums to their record. The third, Predator or Prey is more avant-prog, noisy and experimental in nature while the fourth, Obedience (their first release through Cuneiform) has more moments reminiscent of post-rock sound and mood and yet also holds the adventurous approach. The use of tormented sounding strings is one major defining characteristic of their sound along with crunchy, noisy guitars and wacky saxophones that create this mass of loud sound and together you get a synergistic musical effect with an intensity and raw energy in some tracks and mesmerizing (post-rockish) and haunting spirals of sound in others that culminates in a total mess of instruments pouring out their sound. There is a variety of moods and sounds portrayed within each release and therefore you will not dose off or be bored. From quiet, ponderous moments to raw and aggressive parts, from slower and somber moments to faster and insane pieces; those albums are a guaranteed roller-coaster ride.

2006 sees their release of a double CD Surviving Death/Alive Why? CD I is their 5th studio release and the 2nd cd is a compilation of 7 years of live shows in which the many member...
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LARVAL discography

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LARVAL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.25 | 8 ratings
3.75 | 8 ratings
3.15 | 11 ratings
Predator or Prey
4.18 | 11 ratings
3.80 | 10 ratings
Surviving Death / Alive Why?

LARVAL Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

LARVAL Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

LARVAL Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

LARVAL Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

LARVAL Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Predator or Prey by LARVAL album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.15 | 11 ratings

Predator or Prey
Larval RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Pnoom!

3 stars Rating: C+

It's always a risk to start a CD with its best track. After all, there is a very good chance it will overshadow the rest of the music on the CD and thus gradually lose the listeners interest. On the other hand, if a CD can deliver a stunning opener and follow it up with an equally (or at least nearly so) stunning remainder, the effect is tremendous (as I'm sure all of you have found to be the case at least once in your music listening). Larval, brainchild of Bill Brovold, definitely starts Predator or Prey with its strongest track, "One Last Flight". Unfortunately, the rest of the CD, with one exception, really doesn't live up, and Predator or Prey turns out somewhat disappointing because of that, even though it is actually quite a good release.

I suppose it would have been possible to see it coming even from the awesome first track. After all, between the heavy guitar riffs and the saxophone squeals that open and close the song, there is a section that's really quite dead, not doing anything to engage the listener. The rest of the CD has even more moments like that, unfortunately with the added problem that the music around them isn't nearly as exciting as that of "One Last Flight". The next three songs get progressively less interesting (more and more dominated by dead spots), finally culminating in the pointless "The Strange Farm", which never even attempts to get off the ground.

Thankfully, though, Predator or Prey takes a turn for the better at this point, as "The Crippled Dance" is similar to the opening track in terms of intensity and ability to maintain the listener's interest. The quirky, up-tempo "Half a Bubble Off" brings a humorous air to the largely oppressive music around it, and, again, always keeps the listener engaged. It doesn't let up from there, and the final stretch of Predator or Prey captures the better side of Larval, that of the almost metallic riffs with the jazz meets math rock saxophone and violin. "Alpha-Thejone" in particular deserves mention for its relentless pace - not really fast but certainly uncompromising. Because its momentum never slows, it never lapses into the dead spots that characterized some of the other songs on the CD. Unfortunately, there's "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning", which, like "The Strange Farm", never really goes anywhere, but thankfully, it's only one song surrounded by four better ones.

Take just the strongest songs on Predator or Prey ("One Last Flight" and the last five minus "Wee Small Hours") and you've got an excellent thirty minute EP that would stand as an excellent avant-garde release that mixes math rock with metal and jazz. Unfortunately, throw in the second through fourth tracks and "Wee Small Hours" and you merely have a good, not great, CD that promises far more than it delivers. I'd definitely suggest listening before buying (it can be heard for free on, as it isn't good enough to warrant a blind purchase. Good, but it shows lots of unfulfilled potential.

 Predator or Prey by LARVAL album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.15 | 11 ratings

Predator or Prey
Larval RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by chamberry
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Larval is a Bill Brovord band that fuses standard avant-prog instrumentation and songwriting with a post-rock texture. The resulting mix is quite interesting and very enjoyable for fans of both genres.

This band is in essence an avant-prog band. It has this quirky sound with instruments such as the sax, cello, viola and piano to accompany the standard rock instrumentation and to also give the album a touch of chamber music. The tenor sax is obviously the main instrument here in this album. It gives the album a humor touch to the already cheerful playing of these guys. The back bone of this zany sound is the post-rock part of the band which can be seen in the delicate parts of the album, the (sort of) minimalist approach to their melodies and even the guitar playing, to some extent. There are some notable post-rockish parts in here as well like the song "Predator or Prey" which has quite possibly the funniest and craziest crescendo in all the post-rock world. Other songs such as "The Entity Returns" show a softer side where the band's influences are more dominant. Aside from the quirky and happy way of playing of these guys there's also a sinister atmosphere hidden in the background that sometimes comes out and shows itself like in "The Crippled Dance" thanks to Bill's guitar playing, but those parts soon come to an end and songs like "Half A Bubble Off Level" dominate most of the time.

This is a well rounded album that has many good things going for it, but I feel it lacks something. I'm not quite sure what it is, but there's definitely something missing although it's still perfectly executed. If you're a post-rock fan with a need of something more daring and happy then Larval's Predator or Prey is a great album to check out and for avant-prog fans with a need of a more guitar dominant sound to their music then this is for you as well.

3.5 out of 5

Thanks to avestin for the artist addition.

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