It’s been two years since Laurel Halo offered up her last album, and her absence on the electronic music landscape has been palpable. Halo has emerged as one of the most forward-thinking, unpredictable producers of this decade, from her early recordings of gauzy abstract pop, to the more dancefloor ready but still vocal-heavy Quarantine, to the thumping Chance of Rain, which merged her main project’s aesthetic completely with the more straightforward techno tracks she’d been releasing under the alias King Felix.
In Situ, her new double EP, finds the Brooklyn-based Ann Arbor native on a new label, moving to Honest Jon’s after several albums on the venerable Hyperdub. It also finds her, once again, jumping into new and unexpected musical territory. Gone are the straightforward, thumping dance tracks she’d spent her last few releases perfecting. In their place, we have a more fragmented, abstract, somewhat IDM approach to rhythm which serves the dense but crisp atmospherics layered over it well.
On first listen, it’s possible, maybe even probable, to expect certain elements of these compositions to eventually coalesce into a more forceful whole, but Halo doesn’t let the listener off that easily. Those orgasmic peaks never really materialize, allowing a more warped and introverted sense of space to dominate the proceedings. Hints of jazz and world rhythms, chill passages that wouldn’t sound out of place on Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works, sneaky little melodic phrases… Laurel Halo has defied expectation again, and turned out one of her most methodical, intricate releases to date.
In Situ is available now from Honest Jon’s