Music & lyrics, artwork & layout by Alexander von Wieding.
Mastered by Chris Goosman @ Baseline Audio Labs.
Published by Small Stone Records (ASCAP)
Consensus - Crank this one up to 7 out of 11
Genre: Blues, Alternative
Sounds Like: ZZ Top, Clutch, R.L. Burnside
Larman Clamor is a unique artist, the name is an alias used by German illustrator Alexander Von Wieding for his musical identity. You may not know the name, but you may recognize his art. He has created many albums covers, from Karma To Burn and Monster Magnet to Mangoo and Trouble, just to name a few and of course, his own album, 2012's Frogs. This album is filled with swampy; lo-fi blues songs that are sure hook you in. His echoed, raspy vocals remind our editors of Tom Wait combined with Mark Lanegan and Billy Gibbons, it’s a dirty, bluesy vibe. Opening track, “Frogs” starts with lyrics like “Frogs, they keep hunting me, they keep coming into my house…”, it’s catchy and engaging. Leading us right into "Seven Slugs O'Mud", aptly named since it has a swampy vibe with snarling vocals in the background. With songs like "The Mudhole Stomp", which introduces us to some tight slide guitar and “Undead Waters”, with clapping in the background, they are quite contagious. The soft haunting vocals in “Mine To Grind” is hypnotic and we love the transition into the instrumental, “Potions and Secrets”. “Black Cylinder” brings us back to the boogie that we yearn for on this album.
Frogs successfully expands into uncharted waters from previous album, Altars To Turn Blood and being only 31 minutes long, it doesn’t overstay its welcome. We look forward to following Alexander Von Wieding career as an artist and musician, as Larman Clamor will add some unique bluesy flavor to one’s music collection.
Up until recently, Alexander von Wieding was the main supplier of cover designs for Small Stone Records. However, since last year, he joined the label roster with his own outfit LARMAN CLAMOR, and his one-man band fits well into the picture, because a lot of bands on Small Stone are strongly influenced by the good old blues. If you are familiar with the previous releases of LARMAN CLAMOR, then you already know that Alexander von Wieding indulges in his love of the Mississippi delta blues. In doing this, he takes the traditional sound of Howlin' Wolf or Lightnin' Hopkins farther than anyone else on Small Stone.
The result sometimes reminds one of later R.L. Burnside or Slidin' Slim, but basically Alexander makes the blues his own, adding his own 'Larman Clamor style' to every swampy note. This works especially well on 'Frogs', which is his most developed work until now. It's the raw energy and diversity of this record that are it's biggest assets. Sometimes the songs are loud and rough, such as 'The Mudhole Stomp' or 'Black Cylinder', while others are more tranquil and quieter. It is especially in these moments where LARMAN CLAMOR easily creates an atmosphere that evokes memories of southern Louisiana bayous, and one can almost feel the glittering heat in the music. There are also plenty of compelling boogie rhythms that harkens back to John Lee Hooker, whereas the gruff vocals have much in common with Blind Wille Johnson.
Although LARMAN CLAMOR consists of only Alexander von Wieding, 'Frogs' is less minimalistic than one would think. The reason is, that there are more instruments than just an acoustic or electric guitar. Sometimes you can hear both, but there is also some percussion and other sounds which I could not yet identify. So, if you like your blues over-produced and sanitised then go elsewhere, but for anyone who likes music to come from the gut this album is one you really should check out. I personally recommend the swamp-green vinyl edition, which includes a beautiful twenty-page artbook.
German painter Alexander von Wieding creates artwork for a variety of stoner metal acts. As Larmon Clamor, however, he digs into a musical swamp where alligators sing the dirty lowdown weirdo blues. Swinging a mean axe, as well as pounding on various drums and singing in a voice that would give Rob Zombie nightmares, von Wieding imbues the muck-encrusted boogie of “Seven Slugs o’ Mud,” “Gorgon’s Gold” and the creepy “Undead Waters” with the voice of the devil Robert Johnson went to the crossroads to meet. He’s even more effective on wordless cuts “Within Temples of Mold” and “Mill Wheel Alchemy,” letting his bottleneck speak in tongues too filthy for human mouths. The spirit of Frogs may wax strange, but the spirit in von Wieding’s six strings slides true.
Better late than never as the saying goes. This album actually came out in 2012 and somehow passed us by at the Shaman’s lair but here it is now and thoroughly deserving of some bandwidth!!!
Larman Clamor is the brain child of German artist extraordinaire Alex Von Wieding, the man behind artwork for many bands such as Monster Magnet, Karma To Burn, Enos, Sun Gods In Exile, Gozu and a million other Small Stone bands. So is there a charge of nepotism here with this release being on Small Stone? Hell no, this album stands tall on its own two feet.
Far from being the heavy, stoner rocking groove fest you might be expecting, this is a self contained, one man unit that explores the depths of swampy Mississippi Delta blues. Von Wieding plays all the instruments himself, from guitars to percussion to occasional banjo and harmonica as well as topping it all off with a guttural, rough hewn voice that speaks of a man beyond his physical years.
A lazy comparison would be Seasick Steve but Larman Clamor is a far darker, more sinister beast as Von Wieding creates hypnotic blues drones backed up by sparse percussion and gritty, other worldly guitar. Occasionally on tracks such as “The Mudhole Stomp” he evokes the vibe of someone like Five Horse Johnson with its funky groove and tighter structure but for the most part this is the sound of a man following his own inner muse…and if you’ve ever seen examples of his artwork you will understand that his vision is unique, bordering on the extraterrestrial. Probably a more suitable point of comparison would be to look back to some of the veteran bluesmen of yore, people such as John Lee Hooker with his insistent boogie or Lightning Hopkins. There’s also a touch of Dr John’s voodoo blues vibe and dare I say a little of Tom Waits’ in Von Wieding’s throaty growl.
Larman Clamor certainly know how to create an atmosphere and know the value of space in music. Each track is layered with the minimum instrumentation required to achieve maximum impact…if full drums are required then so be it but if it’s just a shaker or some wood block to keep some rhythm then that’s what you get and it does make for a diverse and interesting album in a genre that can be prone to repetition.
This may be a bit of a curve ball to most followers of Small Stone’s output but one that they should be prepared to catch and wholeheartedly embrace. It has just enough rock and roll grime under its fingernails to keep the hardcore faithful happy and the line drawn between them and someone such as Five Horse Johnson isn’t as far as you may think. Rock and roll, heavy metal, stoner rock, doom metal…they all built their foundations on the blues so take a look at something that springs far closer to the source.
- Ollie Stygall
Larman Clamor is the musical alias of respected German illustrator Alexander Von Wieding, better known for his dazzling album cover designs for everyone from Monster Magnet to Nuclear Assault than for composing albums of his own, such as 2012's Frogs. But imagine if Tom Waits hailed from the bayou (and imagine Germany has bayous, while you're at it) and you'll grasp the essence of Larman Clamor's backwoods troubadour working an intentionally lo-fi aesthetic, as songs like "Seven Slugs O' Water" and "Undead Waters" emerge from a leaky shotgun shack, as though recorded with a third-hand guitar plugged straight into a banged-up Fender Champ. Further comparisons that come to mind include Jack White minus the massive record sales and resultant supermodel wife ("Black Cylinder"), or a hung-over Jon Spencer ("The Mudhole Stomp," "Gordon's Gold") casually fumbling his slide across the strings. And then there's the title track's ramshackle boogie, which sounds like Billy Gibbons (the lecherous Gibbons of "La Grange") grappling with sputtering electricity, the spartan instrumental "Mill Wheel Alchemy," buoyed by bongos and bongs, and, well, you get the picture. Suffice to say that Frogs successfully paints a vivid character portrait through its rickety faux field recordings, and whether this will resonate with anyone beyond fellow weirdlings and like-minded outsiders is another matter. Chances are Larman Clamor isn't sweating it either way.
- Eduardo Rivadavia
Larman Clamor is the brainchild of Alexander von Wieding. Big chance you have one of his works in your record-collection. Not so much because of the music, but because of his impressive artwork and sleeve-designs. Tankard, Monster Magnet, Razor, Nightstalker, Karma to Burn, Tank86 and Wo Fat make up only a small part of his clientele. As a musician, Alex is a loner. Since 2008 he has been steadily releasing his primitive, minimalistic garageblues under his pseudonym Larman Clamor. 'Frogs' is its third full length, this time on Small Stone Records. Von Wieding successfully sketches scenes of swampy southernness, but we have to conclude we've seen this done more spectacularly in the past (Bob Log III, Bjorn Berge, Seasick Steve, to name a few). This man sounds authentic enough to answer for it, though.
Autumn evokes a strange mix of moods. Crisp fall air and lengthening shadows can evoke pleasurable associations with apple cider, haunted houses and horror movies, but also trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder and dread of winter. It was enough to drive Edgar Allan Poe to drugs, whereas some of us would be happy with a barrel aged stout, or some autumnal music. I dug deep into what makes certain music autumnal over a decade ago in Grim Reapers & Haunted Melancholy: Music of Autumn, and am always looking for new albums to add to the playlist.
Alexander von Wieding is a German illustrator who has done album art for the likes of Wo Fat and Monster Magnet. He’s also recorded a series of albums as Larman Clamor that sound like Tom Waits if he were buried in a swamp and revived with the help of a witchdoctor, Baron Samedi and the spirit of Howlin’ Wolf. Something this disfigured couldn’t have just come from the bayou, no matter how much mud, blood and hoodoo was involved. There’s also some ancient beasts from Germany’s Black Forest and dark fairy tales lurking about. While his self-titled debut and Altars To Turn Blood (2011) are collections of fragmented riffs and roughed-up Z.Z. Top boogie, Frogs shows more development in the songwriting department, resulting in the most satisfying album so far, and almost as fun as a closet of dancing skeletons.
- A.S. Van Dorston
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.
And as many one-man projects as there are out there working in and around Americana influences, Larman Clamor is unique among them for the headfirstness with which it dives into the style. A repetitive, insistent guitar line complements the heavy feet of “The Mudhole Stomp,” and von Wieding switches effectively between mumbles and shouts vocally to underscore the otherworldly nature of his incantations, a layer of slide guitar behind seeming to bounce as though on a spring. From there, Frogs takes a turn into the ambient, a spoken vocal over the initial moments of guitar, far-back organ, bass and snare drum of “Undead Waters” reminding somewhat of Phil Anselmo circa the second Down album without being blatant either in cadence or mood. Larman Clamor’s brooding stretches prove no less effective than the party it seems willing at any moment to host, and it’s not often one things of handclaps as an element one might use to play up a feeling of morbidity, but somehow in the build of the two-minute “Undead Waters,” they do, and “Mine to Grind” maintains the darkness of atmosphere, a slogging rhythm – is that a washboard I hear? – playing out with bluesy electric and acoustic guitar riffs and moody, subdued vocalizing. There’s a vague build, or at least a linear course to “Mine to Grind,” but really the song functions best in the context of the album as a whole, offering a midsection glimpse into the overarching threat in the sound – the alligator hiding in the water. No less adept at playing one element off another than the switch between “Mill Wheel Alchemy” and “The Mudhole Stomp,” “Potions and Secrets” may be the shortest cut on Frogs at 1:25, but it’s also the purest moment of psychedelia, organ, drums and guitar working in tandem toward some ethereal mini-sprawl, still definitely of the mud and the tall grass, but at very least looking at the sky. From there, no place to go but back to the county fair, so “Black Cylinder” revives the one, two, three, four beat and forward push of the early-album material and gives a glimpse perhaps at some future strangeness to come in a short break of quirky percussion and hairy distorted guitar.
At a luxurious four minutes and three seconds, “Gorgon’s Gold” is among the longest tracks in Larman Clamor’s fast-expanding catalog. It begins a three-minutes-plus closing trio – “Gorgon’s Gold,” “Within Temples of Mold” and “Journey of the Serpents” – that seems bent on expanding the atmospheric and stylistic formula of the rest of the album. Hard-plucked strings in “Gorgon’s Gold” set up electric strumming, slide guitar, blown-out vocals, organ and a beat-keeping snare, and though by the time the full reach of the track is established, it’s more than halfway through, that seems to have been the idea in the first place, von Wieding having set a vibe like he started playing in a room and others just came in and picked up instruments as time went on. Of course, it’s all him, so that’s not the case, but the more fleshed-out feel of “Gorgon’s Gold” continues into “Within Temples of Mold” – the rhyming of the track names emblematic of an overarching rhythm at the core of Frogs permeating every aspect of it – which despite being instrumental, makes me wish von Wieding had six or seven compatriots in the project with whom he could embark on extended countrified jams. The song has sway more than swagger, but the lead guitar does an effective job anyway of filling a lyrical gap, and “Journey of the Serpents” would be an epic in the context of thicker tonality, but even as it is, the payoff that the first half builds toward is palpable, fuzz rhythm tossed in with lead, drum stomp, acoustic, moaning vocals and a dead-on riffy groove. That groove breaks down, one instrumental layer at a time, to its most basic elements before the song ends, and one is reminded of the subtle complexity in von Wieding’s approach to the recording: As basic as these songs feel, they’re not. Frogs pushes Larman Clamor’s arrangements into dark, yet-uncharted waters, but never loses sight either of the shore it’s leaving behind or the necessary loneliness of the blues at its base. As exciting as it is to think of what avenues for future exploration this might portend for von Wieding’s solo venture, what matters most for the time being is that the album makes each of its experiments work in the context of its own goals, and grows the idea of what Larman Clamor is without sacrificing what the project initially set out to be. As von Wieding continues to work at a pace of output no less kinetic than the material he presents, Frogs warrants catching before a follow-up surfaces.
- H.P. Taskmaster