By Jim Schutze
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Denton's musical and artistic community owes a debt to certain people. Some of them are musicians, some are visual artists and others are curators of art that allow for freedom of expression and interpretation.
Lars Larsen fits all three of those descriptions.
From 2003 to 2010, Larsen lived in Denton and helped inject a significant dose of creativity into Denton's music and art community, primarily through his band, The Undoing of David Wright, and also through running the 8th Continent DIY venue, as well as the 8th Continent Arts Council that accompanied it. It was in this space, most recently known as DOOM, that bands such as Undoing (which consisted of Larsen, Shane English and Aaron Marshall), Christian! Teenage Runaway and Ghosthustler were able to flourish.
In turn, it helped Larsen flourish. Being in a band that focused so much on synthesizers and pedals prodded Larsen to take an interest in electronics. Not having much of a budget to afford repairs was certainly a factor, too.
"I started making my own drum machines, and that led into building modular synthesizers," Larsen says. "It was like finding something I should've been doing for years, because I enjoyed it so much."
Later, his forays into building modular synthesizers and etching circuit boards led to his hiring as the repair technician at Switched On in Austin—one of the few vintage music electronics shops in North America. Before moving to Austin from Denton in February 2010, though, Larsen was already in the initial stages of building the LZX Visionary—an idea he'd come up with over a year before.
Larsen's idea to make a modular video synthesizer system came to fruition during his time at Switched On. After some performances and video clips were put up for display, the system was finally showcased in Neon Indian's "Mind Drips" video, which Larsen created by using only the Visionary.
With such a high-profile showcasing, Larsen's recently started working on the Visionary full-time. And he's since moved to Dallas, too, as his company is currently in the middle of its first real production run for his system. Online store Analogue Haven has already signed on to distribute Larsen's custom modules, of which there are currently 150, spread out across 20 systems.
It's a large undertaking—and one Larsen acknowledges wouldn't have happened without his time in Denton.
"My experiences in Denton have played a huge formative role in who I am and things that I've done—more than any town in the world," Larsen says. "That's where I feel the most at home."