Lars Horris

Nothing To Fear

Lars Horris - Nothing To Fear ©1999 Noseman Records
1. Going For Your Ear
2. Peaceful Defenseless People
3. Pop Goes The Icon
4. Porcine Financial Issues
5. I Want To Be Anakin Skywalker
6. Aliens In My Cereal
7. Bill The Biogeneticist
8. Faith & Wisdom
9. Lobster Boy
10. Miles Davis' Calculator
11. Rapbeth (Foul Is Fair)
12. Driving Home Infatuated
13. Strobelights & Special K
14. Transylvania
15. Rhythmic Theories
16. Leggo Man
17. Heal

A quick listen to this disc makes the fact that Lars Horris is a talented fellow quite evident...but Nothing to Fear isn't particularly good. On a technical level, it's well done for a home recording - the mix is drum machine-heavy but the overall sound is mostly clear, which makes the limited, indie-budget palette of synth sounds far more tolerable; however, huge problems remain with lyrical meter, weak vocal delivery, incomplete lyrics, and repetitive song structures that render this disc a tedious experience.

The problems with meter and vocal delivery are almost inextricably linked. Almost all the lyrics share a short, insistent meter, which amplify the problems inherent in Lars' tendency to whisper when rapping and hold back while singing. The album's best song, the Shakespeare-based "Rapbeth (Foul Is Fair)," partly succeeds because Lars raps in a speaking voice over a longer-metered rhyme and sounds confident. Whispering a short-metered rap with heavy emphasis on the rhyming words might work as a gimmick for a line or two but when it's the main mode of delivery for most of the songs, both ear strain and boredom tend to set in. Also, Lars has an unfortunate tendency to sing quietly and stress odd syllables, which leads to a wavering, uncertain sound on such tracks as "Bill the Biogeneticist" and an odd, resonant "m" in the chorus of "I Want to Be Anakin Skywalker."

Complete lyrics are another reason why "Rapbeth" succeeds where other songs falter. In contrast, "Bill the Biogeneticist" has a chorus about creating a mutant fire-breathing deer and "Lobster Boy" contains the line "I'll be Lobster Boy and you'll be Crustacean Girl,"...but that's about the entire appeal for each one. "Going for Your Ear" and "I Want to Be Anakin Skywalker" are better, each with almost a full song's worth of lyrics...but they fall short and also suffer from the previously discussed short-meter syndrome. Essentially, Nothing to Fear contains a handful of great one-liners but not much in the way of substance.

As far as the music itself goes, the songs have good rhythmic and melodic ideas...but none of them go anywhere. Actually, they go in circles. Once the main theme from each song has played, it plays again. And again. At least four times in a row before some small change, if a change does, in fact, occur. If Lars trimmed each song down to its essential musical components, none of them would be over one minute in length.

Essentially, what Nothing to Fear is is a first effort. It's a deeply flawed experiment and while I can't see buying this disc, Lars is definitely talented and I want to see what he'll do in the future.

Review by Jonathan Arnett

Review date: 02/2001

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Lars Horris - Insectivorous ©2000 Noseman Records
1. Insectivorous
2. The Séance At Harper’s Ferry
3. They Call Me Lars
4. What We Came 2 Do (featuring Robbie Raw)
5. Donald
6. Lizards In My Room (featuring Ho Yon Jung)
7. Freak Me Baby (All Night Long) (featuring A. Wixted)
8. Justified Animosity
9. Titus’ Cookbook
10. My Demented Dimension
11. Freestyle Flow (featuring B)
12. Greg The Gnome
13. We Could Have Sex On The Lawn
14. Remedial Electronic Subversion

Lars Horris’ second CD, Insectivorous, is far better than his first, the less-than-aptly titled Nothing to Fear. Far, far better. Gone is the annoying, hyperspeed Casio-generated approach; in are a more liberal use of guitar, many laid-back hip-hop stylings, and a variety of lyrical topics, which results in a much more worthwhile, not to mention listenable, disc. More variety in internal song structure would be nice…but Insectivorous shows a heck of a lot of improvement as it is.

Lars’ rapping, although never stellar, is also particularly improved. His apparent confidence in the recording studio and his lyrical flow are much more impressive than on his previous effort; however, he still tends to use an unfortunate not-quite-monotone and noticeably delay reciting his lyrics in order to hit the beat square-on. Experimentation with at least one different delivery style would be a good move (this is one reason why “Justified Animosity” works). Also, Lars’ lyrics often contain fewer beats per line than could fit; this is most likely the root of the beat-heavy delivery.

Perhaps it’s a sign that the old bromide given to aspiring writers - “Write what you know about” - is good advice because the best tracks are ones in which Lars seems to be most interested in the subject rather than in just being clever. “They Call Me Lars,” a genuinely foot-tappin’ song, contains some observant, funny lyrics about tourists and cops around Monterey, CA, Lars’ home turf. “Justified Animosity” is obviously therapy and, hoo boy, it’s damned funny. The same applies to “Remedial Electronic Subversion,” and, although I doubt that Lars is actually a serial bug-muncher, the title track is pretty darn good as well. The remaining songs generally don’t measure up to the standard set by these tunes but a handful of the rest have at least one outstanding moment to recommend them. For example, the wordplay in “Freak Me Baby” is clever, while the second verse is simply hysterical, the breaks at 2:12 and 2:26 in “Lizards in My Room” are groovin’, and the layered structure of “Titus’ Cookbook” approaches psychedelic.

Insectivorous isn’t perfect, by any means, for Lars Horris still has plenty of room to improve before he transcends the rank of talented amateur; even so, I’ll definitely keep this disc in my collection and stick some of Lars’ songs on mix discs. I definitely look forward to hearing what he does in the future.

Review by Jonathan Arnett

Review date: 03/2001

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