Release Date: Oct 30, 2015
Record label: Honest Jon's
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Club/Dance, Indie Electronic, Dream Pop, Experimental Electronic
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.
With an obsessive determinism to sharpen her sonic palette, Laurel Halo finds a home at Honest Jon's with a graceful and fascinating blueprint for releases yet to come on her latest, In Situ, a double EP marked by perfectionism. The record appears to hearken back to her first instrumental release, 2011's Antenna, a collection that saw her shifting away from her heady, abstract pop material to become more attuned to making music with sound and shape as the focus. As with In Situ, those songs were ambient, ecological sketches.
That Laurel Halo's debut release for Honest Jon's Records, In Situ, is described as a double EP is the first clue that she's working on a more intimate scale than she did on her acclaimed Hyperdub albums, Quarantine and Chance of Rain. Borrowing its name from the Latin phrase meaning "in its original place," the set finds her taking a technical, almost scientific approach to experimental techno. Halo puts a handful of elements -- asymmetric beats, buried melodies, some filters -- in each track and seems to let them combine and collide at will, with many sounds landing in places just outside the norm.
Reading through all the different uses of the phrase “in situ” on Wikipedia kind of feels like going over a laundry list of inspirations for a new Laurel Halo record. The phrase means “on site” and is a widely-adopted piece of jargon for a number of different fields of study (aerospace, electrochemistry, petroleum production, environmental cleanup, vacuum technology, gastronomy), but it most commonly refers to when tests or measurements are taken in the original space a phenomenon occurred in. Most of the time, the purpose of in situ experimentation is to understand how something works in its original system without outside alteration.
We’re inundated with so much music now that, more and more, great collections of songs go unnoticed — especially when music critics go into hyperdrive during list-making season. So here’s the best music that SPIN slept on these past few months, including two of the great rhymers who still rhyme for the sake of riddlin’, a sax machine who woke up feeling like a pop star, an anti-folkie who’s matured into something like a regular folkie, and a post-rock duo overdue for, well, their due. Aesop Rock and Homeboy Sandman, Lice EP (Self-Released)Homeboy Sandman is one of the best rappers of his generation, so it sucks that he and the logorrheic Aesop Rock only surprise-released this excellent, five-song comeback in the tail-end of 2015.