Sunday, 24 February 2013

April Larson - When You Fall Asleep / Entressis / Small Pieces of Sky (Bandcamp)

Stumbling across April Larson’s Bandcamp page, I found an astonishing collection of music. Her three most recent albums contain a universe of sound:

When You Fall Asleep is a wonderful, static-filled, meditation on crumble and decay. Pieces like 'Last Steps', 'In Exile' and 'Cobwebs' place the hugeness of eternal drone music within a dirty shroud of warped and dust-infused fuzz.  They sound like garbled data transmissions from the Voyager probe as it leaves the solar system, it's circuits bent and melted by fierce radiation and the gravitational pull of planets.

 

Entressis is remarkable, existing in a liminal state, like the music of Grouper; a staging post for expeditions into the unreal. A hushed awe pervades much of the album with a Yellow Swans causticity evident in its noisier moments. Sad and pensive but lushly beautiful, it seems to breathe organically. Entressis is a paradoxical mystery, like a still but constant moment: the flow of a river caught in frozen movement. It sounds tapped and ancient, an unending process begun long before your birth. Equal parts smooth (‘Missing Years’) and grime-encrusted (‘Click Swallow’), the range of textures employed on the album is fascinating. ‘Hustler’ is ineffably strange, full of lawn mower whine and aquatic moan. ‘Anthurium’ combines grace and hidden claws. ‘Circumflex Grief’sounds like an empty ballroom full of ringing crystal bowls, drifting motes of dust the only dancers. This is a humbling and magical album that addresses the void in human terms, a look within as much as a look without. Music of the spheres condensed into comprehensible form.


Small Pieces of Sky is no less stunning; it begins with a wintry opener, like frosted breath dissipating in cold air. The next piece ‘Frozen Dawn’ has swelling drones like Arvo Part's choral works. ‘Rain in the Garden’ is a noisy beauty.   ‘There Are Stairs Beneath The Ocean’ is another contemplation of space, it shivers, expanding and contracting with slowly flexing subtlety.  An ambient album of distinction, it hangs enchanted in a still night sky.

April Larson’s music is a testament to epochal time, frozen and preserved.  Deep in every sense, she makes sounds that open onto yawning gulfs of drift and drone, while drawing on a plunging well-spring of emotion. Existing somewhere on the noise/ambient/drone spectrum, her work is singular in its raw beauty.  She is an amazing artist; her currently available work is hopefully only an introduction.

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