Though many were captivated by Lars Larsen's performance during last Monday's Neon Indian gig at the Granada Theater in Dallas, few in the crowd were necessarily aware of Larsen tinkering away in the balcony. Sure enough, it was Larsen who treated a local crowd to the visual component (finally) of Neon Indian's live act, which the band had always intended to have from the get-go.
Recently, the band sought out Larsen, who has earned quite the reputation locally as both a recording and visual artist, starting with his time in the Denton-based act The Undoing of David Wright. Since The Undoing was undone in the summer of '07 following a taxing tour, Larsen's stayed very busy, recording an EP with Andrew Michael of Rival Gang and Vulgar Fashion, as Electronik Warfare, and producing another batch of songs with Wanz Dover as War Wizards. And last March, Larsen started Phantastes as a solo project (and Larsen says we can expect a 7-inch "sometime in the next few months" on Answering Machine Recordings).
All that is likely to get put on hold for now, though.
"Right now, I don't have a lot of time for music," Larsen says. "I've been working on the video synth."
That video synth is an analog video synthesizer called The Visionary, which Larsen says he's developed along with a collaborator in Sydney. Basically, The Visionary allows a band or visual artist to alter video signals in the same way that a traditional audio synth can alter sound, say from a plugged-in electric guitar.
"I got interested in '70s video synthesizers and was encouraged to tinker around by some friends because there weren't any analog video synthesizers, so I started researching and reading about them."
And when Larsen read all he could find online or in print, he took to making international calls to other synth "gurus." Eventually, his research led to the actual designing of circuits.
"Most of my background is in building this stuff out of curiosity, and from not having the money to go buy a $5,000 piece of equipment."
For the last year and a half, he's been developing The Visionary as part of a line of analog video synthesizers and other components for his own Denton-based LZX Industries.
In the next few months, Larsen and his friends will also be starting up a new and used electronics shop in Austin—one aptly named Switched On. And, naturally, Larsen says, once the device is released, Switched On will stock The Visionary. —Daniel Rodrigue