Larvae's fourth album is a highly introspect and mesmerizing work which takes a step forward from the more electronic trilogy formed by "Fashion Victim", "Dead Weight" and "Loss Leader". An instrumental, solo work, it is a place where long strings and fragile melodies form a contemplative landscape and relegates the electronic beats to the backgrounc. An intense collection during which Larvae focuses on its most emotional and sincere side, here is a necessary album for introvert nights and profound, closed-eyes listening. (Get this on CD / as digital files)
It will have taken almost four years for Matthew Jeanes (Larvae) to write his fourth album and escape the boundaries and expectations built with his first trilogy. What had started with the bassy, electronic and club-friendly "Fashion Victim" (2003), followed by the towering noisy hip-hop and song writing of "Dead Weight" (2006) had reached its end with "Loss Leader" (2008), a lower-profile work which was already showing signs of Larvae's departure from heavy electronic beats in its second half.
If Larvae exited his past, it couldn't be clearer than with 2012's strategy. A much more compact effort, devoid of any vocals, guest appearance or remix, it is a highly introvert work whose focus set on emotions, memories and expectations. Guitars are the main inhabitants of the solemn, reclusive landscape pictured on the album's cover, for gone are the ways when Larvae was sharing stage with Scorn and unleashing body-wrenching basses and low frequency drones.
Those of us who have followed Larvae over the years will however not be surprised by this evolution: with the participation of Jessica Bailiff to "Dead Weight" or the long melancholic tunes of "Loss Leader", Larvae has always been a project which took the time to touch its audience with deeply honest, stripped down hazy material. "Exit Strategy" sees Larvae dedicate a full album to these slow, melancholic tracks (always only a vocal short of being called "songs"). Full of introspection, of modest but cleverly laid beats, of echoed reflections and beauty, this album feels like another skin has been peeled of the project, getting very close to its deeply humane core.
After almost 10 years of releases, three albums and shows on several continents, Larvae is not an act which is out to be louder, harder or trendier than everybody else. Quite the contrary: "Exit Strategy" is a cleverly modest, profound and intelligent invitation to change, reflection and contemplation, an exit to dreamy, foggy and wide new territories.