New Age musician, producer, composer
Musician, producer, composer, and technological innovator Mars Lasar has created some of the most widely known sounds of the digital age. His work includes soundtracks for movies and electronic games, children’s albums, television commercials, and recordings inspired by the environment. He has also worked as a producer and programmer for acts such as Seal, Divinyls, and Herbie Hancock. Always an innovator, Lasar experimented with his first synthesizer as a teenager and subsequently worked as a programmer for a computer company while he started his career as a professional musician. Making the transition to producer around 1990, he released his own first album, Olympus, in 1992. In the decade that followed, Lasar released 13 more albums while continuing to work as a programmer and producer for other artists.
Lasar was born in the late 1960s in Germany, but his family moved to Sydney, Australia, when he was around one year old. Music was always a part of his life, as Lasar remembered in a biographical sketch on his official website: “I was eleven when I first started,” he wrote. “At first it was many hours of scales and theory, all the usual stuff. I wanted more than ever to make a difference. As I sat at the piano practicing my daily routine I began to compose my own versions of the pieces I knew by heart. Then I was introduced to jazz and improvisation which changed by world and gave meaning to my need to improvise.” Lasar also learned from the world of classical music, especially the compositions of Beethoven, Chopin, and Bach, and from the popular music of the 1970s by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer and Pink Floyd. He was also a follower of New Age musician Jean-Michel Jarre and German electronic band Kraftwerk.
Lasar acquired his first synthesizer, an Arp Odyssey, around the age of 14 and experimented with it at a rehearsal studio in the Lasar family home. His love of music was shared by his older brother Raimond and younger brother Michael. The brothers formed a band with Raimond on guitars, Michael on drums, and Mars playing his synthesizer. The teenagers performed at neighborhood functions and before long secured some paying gigs at local restaurants and wedding receptions.
When he was 15, Lasar won a Young Composers Award sponsored by the Sydney Opera House. The following year he joined the group IQ, which became a popular opening act around Sydney for bands such as Midnight Oil and Split Enz. Known for its futuristi costumes and set decorations, the synth-oriented band brought Lasar to the attention of computer company executive Kim Ryrie when it opened for New Age musician Mike Oldfield. Ryrie introduced Lasar to his company’s Fairlight computer system, which allowed musicians to create and manipulate digital samples of music. Lasar was excited by the new technology, even if it did not always work properly during IQ’s performances. “Mostly [the computers] would work fine,” Lasar recalled on his website. “But sometimes I’d boot the computer only to see hundreds of triangles on the green phosphorous screen.”
While still in his teens, Lasar was hired by Fairlight Instruments to help design their music and sound technology. Among his most important accomplishments with the company was developing its sequencer to take advantage of more bandwidth and memory; eventually, the sequencer could be used to create stereo sounds. Lasar also became a product demonstrator and began to represent the company at international trade fairs and demonstration sessions for other musicians, including Kate Bush, Alan Parsons, and Herbie Hancock. As a music programmer Lasar worked with Australian bands the Divinyls, the Venetians, and Slim Dusty. He also picked up extra money by writing and recording music for commercials for Chrysler automobiles, Duracell batteries, and Kleenex tissues. His work also appeared on the television shows Baywatch, Equal Justice, and This Is the NFL
Well known within the music industry, Lasar made a major impression on the Australian public with his work on the documentary film Sounds Like Australia in 1987. The project led to an offer by noted producer Trevor Horn to work on the soundtrack for the film Days of Thunder in 1990 and additional production work on the debut album by British singer Seal in 1991. The following year Lasar released his own debut album, Olympus, on the Real Music label. The album went into the top ten on Billboard’s New Age albums chart, largely
For the Record…
Born in the late 1960s in Germany; raised in Sydney, Australia; married to Trisha Lasar.
Studied piano and performed in cover band with brothers while growing up; started composing on synthesizer as teenager; began professional career at 16; worked on movie soundtracks and worked as a producer for singer Seal, early 1990s; debut album, Olympus, released 1992; released Karma and Christmas from Mars, 2001.
Awards: Young Composers Award, Sydney Opera House.
Addresses: Record company —Real Music, 85 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 207, Sausalito, CA 94907, phone: (415) 331-8273; Cherry Red, Unit 17 Bysium Gate West, 126-128 New Kings Rd., London, England, SW6 4LZ. Website — Mars Lasar Official Website: http://www.marslasar.com.
because CBS chose it as part of the soundtrack for its coverage of the Albertville Winter Olympic Games in 1992. His next album, The Eleventh Hour, was equally successful. Exploring the theme of human cooperation in saving the environment, the album combined Lasar’s programmed and sampled music along with the music of violinist Charlie Bisharat and wind instrument performer Greg Vail.
Although more of his time was devoted to his solo album releases in the 1990s, Lasar by no means abandoned his many other projects. In the mid-1990s he wrote the music soundtracks for two popular Sega CD-ROM games, Tomcat Alley and Surgical Strike. He also continued to work as a producer on albums by Liane Foly and John Sykes. In 1996 he agreed to compose an album for Real Music’s National Parks Series. The Music of Olympic National Park took six weeks of intensive research; Lasar sampled sounds from the park and incorporated them into the final product. That same year his music was used as the soundtrack for MTV’s Rock the Vote series.
If his virtuosity were not obvious enough, he also released a four-CD set devoted to infant and child listeners in 1996, BabyScapes: Safe in Sound/New Born. The project came out of music that Lasar had composed for his wife, Trisha, and daughter Amy just before her birth. “Don’t put on a BabyScapes tape at work,” a Denver Post reviewer joked, “Or you may do a face plant in the computer, the sounds are so relaxing.”
Lasar returned to the theme of The Eleventh Hour for a sequel album in 1998, 11:02. He also released his first work to showcase his talent as a pianist in Sapphire Dreams: Romantic Interlude in 1998. Lasar continued to compose music for corporate clients and worked as a producer for other artists such as the Russian teenage singing duo Tatu. In 2000 he released When Worlds Collide, an album that allowed him to explore a range of musical styles. “When Worlds Collide is a recording that will reward you with a wide assortment of tunes and moods,” wrote Bill Binkelman of the Wind and Wire website, “Fusing Miles-Davis like trumpet with midtempo tribal rhythms and a great jazz fusion sound, Mars shows that he’s less interested in being categorized than in infusing his music with soul and personality.” In 2001 Lasar released an album of holiday-themed music with Christmas from Mars. He also released another album of eclectic, genre-crossing music with Karma. “Mars set out to make a recording that evoked a variety of emotions, visuals, and sounds, and succeeded on all levels,” wrote Ben Kettlewell of the Alternate Music Press. “The album is beautifully recorded and magnificently performed, a collection of warm and wonderful music.”
Olympus, Real Music, 1992.
Eleventh Hour, Real Music, 1993.
Escape, Real Music, 1995.
Mindscapes, Volume One: Fields of Gold, DCC, 1996.
Mindscapes, Volume Two: Moonlight, DCC, 1996.
Mindscapes, Volume Three: Satin Skies, DCC, 1996.
BabyScapes: Safe in Sound/New Bom, DCC, 1996.
Music of Olympic National Park, Real Music, 1996.
Song of the Manatee, DCC, 1997.
11:02, Earth Tone, 1998.
Sapphire Dreams: Romantic Interlude, Real Music, 1998.
When Worlds Collide, Sound Manipulations, 2000.
Karma, Anagram, 2001.
Christmas from Mars, Sound Manipulations, 2001.
Billboard, March 14, 1998, p. 47.
Denver Post, August 9, 1996, p. E1.
“Mars Lasar,” Anagram Records http://www.anagramrecords.com/artist_pages/artist_marslasar.html (July 12, 2002).
“Mars Lasar,” Real Music Records, http://www.realmusic.com/bio_lasar.htm (July 20, 2002).
“Mars Lasar,” Wind and Wire, http://www.windandwire.com/mars_lasar.htm (July 20, 2002).
“Mars Lasar: Karma,” Alternate Music Press, http://www.alternatemusicpress.com/reviews/karma.html (July 20, 2002).
Mars Lasar Official Website, http://www.marslasar.com/mars_bio/bio_frames/mbio_body.html (July 19, 2002).
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