Friday, September 27, 2013
Larman Clamor - Alligator Heart
It has to be said that Alexander Von Wieding is a pretty prolific kind of guy. As well as providing instantly recognisable cover artwork for several luminaries of the stoner rock scene including heavy hitters such as Monster Magnet, Karma To Burn and Gozu, he is also the brains behind one man swamp outfit Larman Clamor.
Larman Clamor’s first album, “Frogs” was a genuine slab of dark, swampy blues rock typified by droning blues guitar, sparse rhythms and Von Wieding’s gruff, Tom Waits styled vocal howl and on album number two the template still seems to fit very well. Second time around, however, it feels as though Von Wieding has become a lot more confident in himself as more flesh has been added to the sparse bones of the debut. The songs here are still based around simplistic, repetitive guitar figures back up by some unconventional, in rock terms at least, percussion such as bongos, wood blocks, foot stomping…etc, but Von Wieding seems happier to use the luxury of multi tracking to give his pieces more weight and gravitas.
Despite being on Small Stone Recordings this is by no means a hard rock record though it is heavy. Not heavy in the crush you with its mighty riff power kind of way but an understated, introspective, sombre kind of heavy. Songs tend to build from a guitar, sometimes acoustic, sometimes electric, and build gradually, further instrumentation creeps in such as banjo, keyboards percussion, extra layers of guitar float in and out of the mix, voices appear and disappear often independently of the lead vocal. The effect is startling. What initially seems to be the sound of one man doing it porch style and solo with his guitar and very little else actually turns out to be a dense, rhythmically diverse, highly orchestrated schizophrenic ensemble piece that pulls such diverse influences as Five Horse Johnson, Mississippi Fred McDowell and Tom Waits into a tightly woven world of deep, dark delta blues albeit born on German soil. This album is proof that the blues comes from within and you don’t even have to set foot on Delta soil to have it.
Now here’s the thing, recently I was watching a Joe Bonamassa live show on the TV. Joe is being widely touted as the saviour of white man’s blues and, yes, he is damn good admittedly. The guy has an incredible talent on the guitar, a decent voice and some great tunes but his sanitised, populist rehash of the blues is a stark contrast to the sheer emotive depth and soul of Larman Clamor. A white German guy has tapped so far further into the spirit of Robert Johnson than someone like Bonamassa could ever hope to. I mention this because some musicians play blues music and some musicians have “The Blues”…Larman Clamor fall into the latter category.
When the time comes at the end of the year to deliver the inevitable album of the year lists this is an album that may sneak into my top ten without me even realising it…I’ll just look down and it’ll be there by virtue of some strange Hoodoo Voodoo trickery…and who will I be to argue with that?