- Since Laurel Halo's King Felix EP in 2010, it's been impossible to predict which corner of electronic abstraction she'll occupy next. Leftfield bedroom pop, intimate ambient, unconventional techno—Halo has skillfully moved through these sounds, making them her own while displaying a rare dexterity with production. Two years after her excellent Chance Of Rain album on Hyperdub, In Situ sees the Michigan-born artist continuing to trust her instincts as she debuts with an Honest Jon's double-EP full of uniquely disjointed workouts.
It's hard to pinpoint any recurring sounds throughout Halo's diverse discography, but she has some recognizable tendencies. She favors unconventional structures and arrangements, and tracks come laden with hand-sculpted sonic details. This craftsmanship is at the heart of In Situ. Though influenced by dance floor-ready techno, these eight tracks are loose and lopsided—their tumbling rhythms keep momentum up while Halo twists her opaque samples and unbound melodies. Live manipulation gives In Situ its textures, as Halo hardly lets a few bars go by without tweaking rhythmic elements, introducing new sonics or briefly leaning on an effect. The movements are unpredictable but never distracting or overwhelming.
The results of her process come in varying shapes and sizes. "Leaves" sounds like a visceral outtake from Jan Jelinek's Loop-Finding-Jazz-Records as it cycles through obtuse string loops surrounded by big kicks, military snares and rhythmic clatter in the process. "Drift" stretches its dubby underpinnings into light experimentation, muffling its lethargic bassline beneath grainy organ stabs and punchy machine percussion. Closing In Situ is "Focus I," which revolves around a jazzy, soul-burnt keyboard solo. Halo lays the notes atop a multi-layered shuffle that flickers with miniature rhythmic details. It's a sweet reminder that, though the producer's technical abilities only continue to evolve, she's in no danger of losing her underlying musicality in the process.
D1 Focus I