A Journal Of The Dark Arts

Music For Dark Skies & Ominous Portents: April Larson – Undergrounding In A Storm (Arell)

April Larson Arell review

Louisiana’s April Larson delivers 20 minutes of graceful, sparking anti-gravity drones for the mail art imprint Arell.

I. Storm Tower
I wasn’t sure if I’d done it intentionally, not even after I’d done it. Not even after I’d placed my hand against the smooth base of the tower and felt the hum I had only sensed. First there was a hum, then there was a flash.
… To be continued.

Imagine the air, right before a lightning storm – the air, electric, pulsing with potential energy, ready to break loose in a violent cataclysm in the blink of an eyelash.

Now imagine you’re walking through a windswept clearing, metal pylons stretching out to infinity, as the sky darkens ominously. Despite the risk, you feel the compulsion to reach out and touch one of these modern megaliths, to feel the ghosts of electrical current pulsing through the smooth metal.

There’s a hum, and a brilliant flash, as you succumb to either visions or electrical shock. Your consciousness seems to depart your body, following ground lines deep into the Earth. Vast corridors radiate out in every direction, as you follow a faint phosphorescent glow down the metallic labyrinth, finally stumbling upon a central command module – perhaps some archaic Cold War monitoring bunker, or a sci-fi envisioning of Ancient Wisdom, with a spidery network of cables representing Humanity’s nerve center.

Undergrounding In A Storm is the most recent outing from the prolific, but always exceptional, April Larson. April Larson is best known to our readers as one half of the spectral, enigmatic Isobel Ccircle~. April Larson’s compelling ambient/drone/noise blend is always particularly adept for creating the illusion of space, like on the wonderfully decrepit The House In Harbour Park.

This time ’round, however, Ms. Larson replaces the damp, moldering field recording for 19 minutes of ethereal synth drones – disembodied sine waves traveling down the line, while deep bass rumbles sound like submarine navigation cables.

Undergrounding In A Storm is no boring drone record, no static loops or lazy cut-and-paste digital manipulation. Like all great sound collages, there is a sense of unfurling narrative, as ghostly movements pass across your field of vision, like half-remembered dreams.

If you’re not yet familiar, Arell Records is a cool update on the Mail Art of the ’60s & ’70s, re-imagining the purpose of digital music and dissemination. Arell realize the importance of physical artifacts, while not necessarily succumbing to the fetishization of vinyl or cassettes. While we love both of those formats dearly, it’s not the only way to listen to music. What do you do, if you’d like a keepsake of your favorite music that you listen to off of your phone or streaming device?

Arell Records solves this dilemma by offering each release as a limited edition print, which comes with a download code for the full release. Each print is a lovely keepsake, all on its own, while still being significantly cheaper than vinyl, and less harsh on the environment.

As always, April Larson gives us hope for a brighter future for acousmatic art, creating compelling, visionary sound sculptures for movies of the mind that don’t yet exist. Filmmakers and video game designers, consider yourselves hipped, and hire Ms. Larson for some sound design, before she becomes too famous and expensive.

Another great release from Arell Records, perfect for some late night reading of cosmic, existentialist sci-fi like Stanislaw Lem or the Strugatsky Brothers.


April Larson @ivorylabyrinth/bandcamp/soundcloud
Arell Records FB/@arell_sound/bandcamp

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