Oh good: a new full-length album from Laurel Halo! Dust started out with recordings made by Halo along with Eli Keszler and Lafawndah, which were then cut-up and augmented by Halo’s genius electronic processes into the sleekly experimental digital pop we hear here. Additional guest appearances from Diamond Terrifier, Julia Holter and more! Out on Hyperdub.
Vinyl LP £12.49 HDBLP036
LP on Hyperdub.
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CD £11.99 HDBCD036
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This record is an absolute gift. It’s the kind of record you make when you’re one of the greats and can make every one of your releases sound like a fantastic birthday party. Celebrating by playing, Laurel Halo’s ‘Dust’ is a [crying-while-smiling emoji] collection of sideways baked pop music, leaning into the vocal splices of ‘Quarantine’, the bold dance boom of ‘Chance of Rain’ and the pure joy of hanging out with good friends. Collaborating with the likes of Max D (who plays the bloody cowbell), baroque songwriter Julia Holter, the wonderful Michael Salu, and many more worth applauding, ‘Dust’ sounds like a bunch of people letting a good time get delightfully out of hand.
“Sun to Solar” opens the record with keys, counter-attacking lines and a tapping beat that suggest something uniform but allow warps and reversals, Halo’s voice stretching out into strange, slow regions as the song loses itself. The bass line of “Jelly” is met with a low-key synth-pop and that essential Max D cowbell, each element pasted together in a way that can meander and tighten. Diamond Terrifier turns up to improvise on sax on “Archshkriecher”, which is largely a cacophonous noise piece given plenty of room to breathe -- its siren bleeps and chiming resonances should go pretty repulsively with Terrifier’s scale riffs, but the whole thing sounds weirdly pastoral and fun, as if it were a twilit waiting room for “Moontalk”, the record’s undisputed pop watermark.
The truth is that “Moontalk” has confused each and every Norman employee on at least one occasion at this point -- those phone key sounds have made everyone check their pocket or rise from their sombre record-packing slumber, as if they’ve woken up to a decade where phones made that sound on the regular. Matched with absolutely wonderful tumbles of bass, chimes of laughter and synths both sprinkled and stabbed, this is that kinda track, one that draws a picture in grey and then colours it in for you bright and fluorescent. It’s that kind of record, too -- I’m sitting here thinking things are just okay and then the strings come in.
9/10 (return of the) coffin dodger 19th August 2017
Having tekken a couple of year's out to, frankly, dodge the coffin, it is, for me & I do hope for you too, that in the year where those auspices of the 'music industry' (art, mate - art) have come down to providing 'a-let's-encourage-more-females-to-give-music-a-try-award' a moot point that four of the most listenable releases of the year are all by lasses. if you like splitting up music into genres, fine, crack on, I don't. Like all art it's not ever a question of good or bad, t'only question I ask of my ears is this: 'is it interesting?'
If nowt else, Ms. Halo has always been interesting, both less and more so. However, this fine set of songs is and will be an echo, a returning echo of the joy of life versus the pain of life, and the bits in between which fascinate... yep, that in which we have no choice but to suck it up.
I like to imagine a conversation twixt Laurel Halo and Miles (Davies - who else?) where Miles puts down his horn, opens his eyes and nods along to Halo's tunes... 'now that's what I'm saying girl, take this baton...' he grins.
'Whoa, says Halo, 'Did it ever happen?'
The other three? in no order: Karen Gwyer, 'Rembo'; Kate 'This is the Kit' Sables, 'Moonshine Freeze'; and Jlin, 'Black Origami'.
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- Dust by Laurel Halo
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