tue 17/09/2019

CD: Laurel Halo - Raw Silk Uncut Wood | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Laurel Halo - Raw Silk Uncut Wood

CD: Laurel Halo - Raw Silk Uncut Wood

A small but perfectly formed example of the state of the ambient art

Laurel Halo - 'this is music that transports without ever deadening the mind'

So the ambient revival continues apace, getting deeper and wider with each passing year. From the interstices between the classical concert hall, abstract art installations, the backroom of more insalubrious little raves and festivals, the small hours on oddball online radio stations, and the spaces into which people get lost as they defocus and absorb themselves into their headphone soundtracks on commutes seems to seep more and more sound that is textural above all.

Some of it is formulaic analgesia – see the simple piano pieces that get millions upon millions of plays on the streaming services. Some of it is abstracted or noisy to the point of being strictly for the “heads”. But plenty can both be full of psychedelic intensity and also reach way beyond any specialist niches. Thus the recent albums and soundtracks of Ryuichi Sakamoto and the late Jóhann Jóhannsson, and thus, increasingly, the work of Michigan composer/producer Laurel Halo.

Halo's earlier work, most notably on the British label Hyperdub, brought electronica, leftfield indie, R&B and improv styles together into song structrues which, while often broken into fragments, were still perceptible. Lately, though, she's settled back into her sound more, blending and blurring it, until, as here on the Parisian Latency imprint, and inspired by Dutch designers, Ursula K LeGuin and the Tao Te Ching, she comes close to creating sonic Rothko pictures.

Which is not to say there isn't focus here. Taking the sounds of cellist Oliver Coates and percussionist Eli Keszler, among more indeterminate sounds, as her base, she is utterly purposeful on each piece. This short record starts and ends with longer, more harmonic drone pieces, while the four short pieces that make up the middle of it flutter and twitch with improv drums (“Mercury”), repeated piano notes (“Quietude” and “The Sick Mind”) and electrical crackle (“Supine”). This is music that transports without ever deadening the mind.

Inspired by Dutch designers, Ursula K LeGuin and the Tao Te Ching, she comes close to creating sonic Rothko pictures


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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