Release Date: May 20, 2013
Record label: Hyperdub
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock
If you're expecting more of the deliciously off-kilter grooves and vocal experimentation of Quarantine, Laurel Halo's beautifully melancholic album of last year, then Behind The Green Door may only partly satsfy you. For starters, there's hardly a vocal in earshot. These are raw and freeform productions that draw heavily from UK bass and techno."Throw" opens up with what might be a prepared piano, rattling and chinking playfully before giving way to a thunderous bassline.
Named after the artiest porn film ever short, Behind the Green Door sees New Yorker Laurel Halo return to the beat-driven work of her earlier EPs on Hippos in Tanks. In contrast to the glassy ambience of lauded debut album Quarantine, Green Door finds the classically-trained producer dropping four intricate but bruising chunks of bass music, each of which takes Hyperdub’s trademark envelope-pushing electronica and pushes it even further. While Quarantine played with hazy textures and Halo’s melancholy vocals, Green Door is rhythmic, showing off half speed bass drops, drums like mallets and planting the seeds of arrhythmia in every listener.
It's less than a year since Laurel Halo released her debut full-length album for Hyperdub, the brittle, beautiful Quarantine. This four-track EP for the same label makes that record feel light-years away. The vocals are gone, the sense of space has all but vanished. If Quarantine resembled a Cronenbergian amalgam of flesh and machine, here Halo goes one step closer to erasing humanity from the frame.
For a proponent of a genre that abstracts and digitizes the human to the point of epiphenomenal irrelevance, it’s probably apposite that Laurel Halo graces us throughout the duration of Behind the Green Door with the absence of her voice. Across the four tracks of the EP (named after the 70s porno), she doesn’t sing once, and those of us who considered her airy disjunctions one of the most addictive features of Quarantine might initially be deterred by the inorganic vacuum left by her mutism. Yet far from being the procession of insensate coldness and impersonal formality it might’ve been as a result, her latest record is in fact more direct and subtly purposeful than much of the material on her full-length debut.
The four songs that form Behind the Green Door are at ease, mostly situated far away from any simple constrictions suggested by genre categorisation. At its most unnecessary moment, Behind the Green Door sounds like overwrought minimalism (think Pantha Du Prince, but groggier). At its best, as on the diffusive grooves of "NOYFB" or "Sexmission," the new Laurel Halo operates implacably.
One of the cruelest (and brilliant) loose ends left untied, in literature, occurs in Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece 1984. When the novel’s hero Winston becomes incarcerated by the Thought Police — just after discovering a life worth living without Big Brother — he becomes imprisoned by the government at the Ministry of Love. He sees other prisoners go before him, all begging to not be thrown into the mysterious Room 101.
Laurel Halo’s confidence in her beat making ability has only grown in the year that’s passed since the release of her full-length debut, Quarantine. Her latest short and sweet EP, Behind The Green Door, displays Halo’s versatility, taking a left turn from the sounds explored on her full-length. Suprisingly, Halo’s new record doesn’t contain any of the fluttering vocals to which we’ve become accustomed.