Laurel Halo's instumental-only "Chance Of Rain" released this week
Laurel Halo "Chance Of Rain" 2013 | Hyperdub
Laurel Halo is an unbelievably talented producer. Not so much a performer. Several times I managed to see her live it ended up being slightly underwhelming experience. Two years ago during New York's edition of Unsound festival she was playing the showcase at Polish National Home in Williamsburg, which managed to ruin everyone's performances with terrible sound set-up. The only artist who could capitalize on the situation that evening was Jamal Moss (aka Hyerogliphic Being) who's productions and dj-style define itself as deliberately abrasive and lo-fi. Laurel Halo's and, even more so, Robert Henke's widescreen music as Monolake inevitable turned into soups of competing frequencies.
Halo's debut performance at Mutek this year fared considerably better, but have been violently misplaced in massive rock-concert venue. Her fragile dance abstractions are definitely not made for ballrooms. As a consequence it was quite uncomfortable to witness performer's evident nervousness in front of absolutely still public. In addition while the music was gorgeous as ever and sounded great I couldn't shake off the feeling that the set was too pre-sequenced. Although considering the variety of gear and sound layers Laurel employs on her frequently complex studio creations it would be unjust to reproach for it. Which leads me to the conclusion that in the ideal world, where musicians could make reasonable living solely on their recoded output (if they choose to) and don't necessarily have to tour incessantly, Laurel Halo would just happily send elaborately constructed emissions from her laboratory avoiding senseless public listening sessions.
Despite my personal experience with producer's performances, Halo may have actually found enough inspiration for a whole record based on live improvisation material. The exact aspect that I personally found lacking both times seeing the artist.
This week we'll going to hear the result via "Chance Of Rain" released by prolific UK label Hyperdub. As always with Halo the record is adorned with inspired choice of consistently 'dark' artwork. This one is actually the creation of Laurel's father which dates back to his early 1970's work.
The content of "Chance Of Rain" represents a perfect marriage of Halo's breakthrough techno-fantasia "Hour Logic", 'ambientscapes' of unjustly obscure cassette-only release "Antenna" and her latest, richly syncopated and almost dance-friendly 12" "Behind The Greed Door". Which means that we are, for the time being, spared of Laurel's tortured vocal-stylings circa last year's opinion-dividing "Quarantine". Not that it wasn't great and inventive, but I personally prefer less mannerist approach of Laurel's instrumental work.
During her public interview-session with the Wire's Jennifer Allan as part of Mutek's press events Halo mentioned that "Chance Of Rain" was "in the works" and that she was deliberately intending to bypass using her own voice and writing lyrics this time. For what it's worth to avoid "going to a very dark place" as a result of emotionally difficult creative process on "Quarantine". It is quite ironic then that having a very distinct voice talent Halo apparently has trouble employing it and prefers pure fun of layering dance and instrumental tracks. I haven't quite caught if that's something related to this particular stage in musician's career or an established preference, but we have a brilliant, joyously instrumental-only recording artifact from one of the most distinctive electronic producers around.
You can read in-depth interview with the artist in November issue of The Wire (#357) and stream one of the best "Chance Of Rain" cuts "Ainnome" below.