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White Noise: Laurel Halo – Hour Logic

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Laurel Halo – Hour Logic


Constant Index

Hour Logic

After being premiered as a vocalist for Ford and Lopatin, Ina Cube crafted her first EP, King Felix, less than a year ago and here in her second she has taken a rather unexpected turn. While the most striking aspect of her last EP was her unique voice, here she almost completely abandons vocals to focus on the instrumental aspect of her songs. So does this surprising move work for the young artist? Well, sort of. Some of these tracks are great, some are rather dull, and I'd argue none of them are truly excellent.

There are certainly some strong tracks here. Aquifer is a brilliantly pacey cut with fantastic layering and some gorgeous touches, showing how adept Halo is at mixing different textures to create fizzing dancefloor techno. Second track Constant Index is without a doubt the highlight of the EP, but the fact that it's the only one to clearly utilise her vocals perhaps hints the move to a more instrumental style was a misstep. Either way, it's a rushing techno odyssey with gorgeously powerful vocals that soar through the tune. It was wise to mix them into the instrumentation, sometimes creating the effect of an epic background roar, accompanied by a destructive bass and a killer not-quite-drop late in the track which shows what she could be doing this whole time. Later title track Hour Logic is also quite nice, although a pounding 4/4 beat breaks in and contorts it seems more a stage to portray the exploration of tension and release in the glacial ambient tones she employs.

Unfortunately for every track which shines, another falls flat. Head is an journey through an ugly (not necessarily in a bad way) soundscape of lush electronic detail, but it ultimately gets a bit dull before it reaches its nevertheless well-orchestrated climax, ending with a final couple of minutes that are immersive and cacophonous but not quite an adequate pay-off for the wait. Speed of Rain is an interesting but forgettable diversion into IDM beats, and I would argue delving into the terrain of Aphex Twin and Autechre does her no favours in comparison. The melodies here are abandoned before they really have time to shine, and I feel the track hints that perhaps not just here but across the whole EP a few textures and ideas could be removed from the mix. I could go either way on final cut Strength in Free Space, the whole voice-as-intrument approach is done well, the pitch-perfect vocals competing with long tones and a quiet but important beat for prominence across the track.

Ultimately few of these tracks really shine, and while each is an interesting experiment the EP doesn't really come together as a whole that makes you sit up and take notice. However the fact that Halo refused to build upon the strong sound that she produced in her previous EP seems to me less an indication that this is a misstep but more proof that this is an artist who refuses to compromise her vision and that whatever comes next it will be unexpected and interesting. Let's just hope the next release is of a higher consistent quality than this EP, because there is clearly so much talent and so many ideas just waiting to find the perfect form to be expressed.

(P.S. - Check out Actress' awesome remix of Constant Index here)


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