Laurel Halo – Quarantine

Justin Spicer / June 4, 2012

Score: 7.8/10
Hyperdub
Laurel Halo

A few tapes and EPs into her short career, Laurel Halo has seized the blogosphere. The frenzy of hype collides with the malaise of substance; a strange pairing of circumstance and time that creates the singularity—this time known as Quarantine.

Quarantine offers nothing new. Its kinetic swirl of modern experimentalism (repetitive melodies, discordant synth, ethereal vocals, clever use of tape manipulation, digital production) will play straight for a crowd burnt out on dazzle. Halo is no different than the cadre of drone soldiers marching to their own beat—it’s in every scene where conformity has long been a burden. It may wear the clothing of sheep but its thirst for blood is virile.

Halo lurks behind you, waiting to pounce.

Despite its lack of creativity, Quarantine is fueled by the preternatural force of evolution. Halo has taken the wealth of influence curated by the alpha males of avant-garde and given it mother’s milk. Quarantine is a repository of tame ideas set free. Its peacock art–jubilant, colorful and lethal—speaks volumes about Halo’s chrysalis: it is bred for the hunt, more adept and skilled than the generations which precede it.

Most striking about Quarantine is how it embraces pop without falling into clumsily set traps. The use of layered vocals and carefully timed musical interruptions within “Joy” birth a strange beast of empirical catchiness; every piece carefully placed within the composition to bait the hunters rather than capture the prey. “MK Ultra” mashes up years of Tujiko Noriko (or maybe Ross Gellar) into electronic slow dances. The distant din of “Holoday” distills Fennesz into distorted pop culture noir, Halo savagely devouring her aging influences after hunting them for so long.

Quarantine is the payoff after a long stalk. It’s sleek and lean, crafting a well-worn album from the bones of Halo’s victims. It condenses a record collection worth of micro-labeled trial and error into a finely packaged amalgamation. Quarantine may appear innocent, but it is cutthroat eliminating the old of the pack—the new boss more aggressive about success than the old. Time and circumstance has placed us in Halo’s crosshairs—time to dodge the fangs or allow ourselves the painful pleasure of being the next meal for an exquisitely planned but oft ornate creature of electronic evolution.

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