Laurel Halo - Quarantine
Beauty comes in an array of shapes and sizes in all walks of life, especially so in music. Laurel Halo is one such winsome songstress whose songs have a charm that is all but stereotypical. Her music boasts a delicacy that seems contradictory to her choice of expressive content and this is encapsulated in the aptly chosen title of her debut LP, Quarantine.
Halo's previous offering, Hour Logic EP, was released a year ago and those hoping for something similar may be slightly shocked to find Halo's baritone-esque, harmonized vocals appearing on almost every track. In the space of a year, Halo has literally found her voice and whilst her vocal ability is questionable at times, she manipulates it to a point so that it doesn't ever take away from her intricately arranged electronic backdrop, as seen in album opener 'Airsick' and not so much in the musically subjugated 'Years'.
Many of tracks on the album center on lyrics of torment and pain (see; 'Carcass' and 'Tumor'), yet they do so in such a way that the damning lyrical content on display never overpowers the essence of the musical arrangements. Nowhere is this more apparent then in 'Thaw', where bouncing arpeggios uplift the somewhat dark subject matter to a point of nonchalance.
Those accustomed with Halo's previous conquests will also be all too familiar with her extraordinary ability to weave a broad array of elements from her seemingly infinite sonic palate to create vast soundscapes with bewildering results. Whilst this Halo-induced disorientation, which can be seen in much of 'MK Ultra' and in all of album closer 'Light + Space', would appear to be undesirable on paper, on Quarantine, this isn't the case. The 12-track offering is filled with surprises around every corner, both pleasant and disturbing, and whilst they can catch you off guard, Halo executes this element of shock and trepidation to perfection so that it creates another dimension that demands the listener's undivided attention.
With her latest release, Halo reminds us that beauty in music doesn't have to involve tedious acoustic guitars and insipid quaint vocals, but can be based on something deeper and darker that lurks below the surface.
Purchase and listen
Laurel Halo makes music for people who like dissecting music. She places, deliberately or not, so many little homages in her tracks that it’s difficult to count them all, but in Speed Of Rain, 4th track on Hour Logic, her latest EP, it’s relatively easy to find everything from an amen style break to komische synths to kraut pulses to whatever else you want to find. And the rest of the EP is like that, over half an hour of rich sonic exploration into everything electronic and spacey. [read more]
Emerging as one of the more intriguing experimental electronic musicians in the recent memory, Laurel Halo broke new musical ground with her 2012 album Quarantine. It was a cold, abrasive, meditative test in a new blend of music that was completely unique. It was easily my favourite album to come out last year and has since become one of my desert island albums. [read more]