- Quarantine, Laurel Halo's debut full-length, was a hugely accomplished record, hailed on this site and many others as one of the best albums of 2012. But the predominance of Halo's voice proved divisive. On Chance Of Rain, her second LP, she loses the vocals and lets her machines do the talking. It doesn't feel like a wholesale artistic reinvention, but it does show Halo edging away from the abstract nature of her early records towards something tougher and more immediate.
Chance Of Rain maintains the techno trajectory of Behind The Green Door, her EP for Hyperdub from earlier this year. Any fears that this approach has dampened her music's personality are eased by the piano keys and synth droplets on the first track, "Dr. Echt," a deft composition that leaves you wanting more. But the winsome mood is blown out of the water by the woodblock techno of "Oneiroi," which is busy and cluttered—one of those tracks that shouldn't work but really, really does. It pulses, throbs, chops and changes, the sub-bass wallowing and the percussion smacking. On "Serendip," the drums are flattened and dulled so one hit smears over the next. As always with Halo, there's a tactile feel to these productions: you can hear her touch in every subtle tweak.
The abstract synths that have always marked Halo's music are still there, but they're welded to a more robust rhythmic framework. The title track glues casual neo-classicism to drum machines—her current sound in a nutshell. "Melt," a sweeping, kick drum-free sketch, gives us a chance to take stock. "Still/Dromos" seems to play with frequencies on the very edge of human hearing, as Max D-style synths add warmth to murmurs of bass. The album ends where it began, as "-Out" sees Halo (presumably) playing piano to a backing of subtle electronic ambience.
The album's cover art, which was drawn by Halo's father, gives the LP an intimate context. The image has no direct connection to the music (it was drawn in the '70s, before Halo was born) but it's intricate, strange and beautiful—much like the album itself.
01. Dr. Echt
04. Chance Of Rain