Raw Silk Uncut Wood signified an interesting stylistic departure for the now Berlin-based Laurel Halo, but we knew it was only a matter of time before the more dance-able stuff once again beckoned like an old familiar duvet in midwinter. Techno was Halo’s musical wheelhouse before she gained art pop notoriety through the Hyperdub label, and even in the midst of the attention that centered on her boundary-pushing rhythms and vocals, her shows internationally largely remained highlights of the DJ proclivities that apparently started it all.
Couple that origin story with the 4/4 beat that dictates the behavior of so many Berliners, and you have a recipe for a hasty return to form. Halo and Bristol-based producer Hodge are releasing a new EP on Livity Sound that dispenses with an overarching title and just uses the track names: Tru / Opal / The Light Within You.
For his part, Hodge — a.k.a. Jacob Martin — has earned a reputation as a prolific producer who has more label connections than most people have distant relatives. He’s released music on Livity Sound, Tempa, Tectonic, and Untold’s Hemlock imprint; and on the notion of coming out with an album and then going on a tropical sabbatical, he says that he prefers the idea of “storming in the room” as opposed to being “reserved” with his release schedule. His music meanders between the club-focused and the more unorthodox.
All this to say: THEY MET. THEY COLLABORATED.
And you can pre-order the new EP ahead of its November 30 release right over here. While you wait, have a listen to the track opening track “Tru” below:
This is not who I am. I am not who I appear to be. Yet the fiction of the truer self remains. Am I its remains of me? Am I what shimmers in the mirror still, after you shed a tear then parted? what shivers in the water’s gleaming when the wind surged in search of its longing? a disturbance of dust in an empty room? a quickening of the heart from nobody’s gaze?
An inimitable emptiness at the root of all things brings tears to the eyes as the moon its tide, and I try to focus on this void, to grasp its stillness that might soothe me. Yet like all abysses, it’s a mirror that fragments its illusions. Faced before it, you are a labyrinth, scattering yourself like dust on erstwhile winds.
There are love poems scrawled on prison brick. There’s a bouquet of flowers on the windowsill. A statue shudders while its shadow looms. Streetlamps and angels tremble for a moment, their light wanes then bursts. Why this sorrow? Why this seeking-of-yourself to-your-end? You’ve forgotten yourself, yes, but why then do you fear to be forgotten?
Anxiously swaying back and forth while convulsed in tearful tremors, you dearly hold on to what was lost. It becomes you, the tears and blush, as, the shard of remembrance having been caressed to no resemblance, you have become it. Internalizing loss, what was lost will be interred. You can’t return to yourself. Even though you are yourself, you’re even more the longing for, the being forsaken by your self, lost, looming, immanent.
Yet it’s there — riven from you’ll be given to — your self — and, forgotten, forgiven. Although disintegration’s reach is far, infinite abandonment, even imagined, can’t be contained, but it can be uttered in a cry. All vibrantly tactile, this realization that it took self to cry for a self with which you’re now commingled in song. This threshold past, there’s touch, there’s breath, and nearness, you.
“Stop being holy, forget being prudent,
it’ll be a hundred times better for everyone.
Stop being altruistic, forget being righteous,
people will remember what family feeling is.
Stop planning, forget making a profit,
there won’t be any thieves and robbers.
Following her excellent experimental pop album Dust last year, Laurel Halo will soon release a “mini-LP” called Raw Silk Uncut Wood. The forthcoming collection draws from Halo’s recent film-scoring experience, as well as the ancient Taoist text Tao Te Ching. Novelist Ursula Le Guin’s English translation of the text reads,”What works reliably is … More »
While it was only this time last year that Laurel Halo blew minds on at least five continents with her album Dust, the Berlin-based experimental electronic doyen has already announced another expectation-resetting release with a new, six-track “mini album” titled Raw Silk Uncut Wood, out July 13 via Latency.
We say “expectation-resetting” because you’re already thinking squelchy synths and angelic vocal lines — and you’re wrong. Raw Silk Uncut Wood is an instrumental album that forms “a meditative, cinematic listening experience” inspired by “recent film score work for Metahaven and Ursula Le Guin’s translation of the Tao Te Ching.”
Raw Silk Uncut Wood is ALSO a six-track mini-LP featuring percussionist Eli Keszler (whose name you might associate with the likes of Oren Ambarchi, Loren Conners, Jim O’Rourke, and David Grubbs) and cellist Oliver Coates (who has collaborated with Mica Levi and a little band you might have heard of called Radiohead).
Now that you’ve been properly humbled, stay tuned to Latency for ordering info, and check out the album’s first taste, the titular and delicious-sounding combination of “Raw Silk Uncut Wood,” which you can sample below now.
As some Italian reviewer is bound to say…”bellissimo!” And who are we to disagree with Roman trendsetters?
Raw Silk Uncut Wood tracklisting:
01. Raw Silk Uncut Wood
04. The Sick Mind
In a GENIUS stroke of unit-moving wordplay, Perfume Genius’ Mike Hadreas has announced the imminent release of Reshape: a new EP of remixes of six tunes from last year’s acclaim-rific and Grammy-tastic No Shape LP.
Out June 8 on Matador, the new EP will feature contributions from Mura Masa (“Slip Away”), Laurel Halo (“Die 4 You”), Jam City (“Just Like Love”), mmph (“Braid”), and “GRAMMY-nominated No Shape producer” Blake Mills (“Every Night”). Or, as the press release (presumably written by a Walt Disney Imagineer) puts it: “six adventurous takes on the album’s vivid sonic world.” WHOA.
Stick close to Matador’s shopping mall for additional ordering info. And while you wait, check out King Princess’ royal take on “Run Me Through,” followed by the tracklisting and a few upcoming festival dates, all rather ingeniously laid out down below.
Reshaped EP Tracklisting:
01. Braid (mmph Remix)
02. Slip Away (Mura Masa Remix)
03. Just Like Love (Jam City Remix)
04. Die 4 You (Laurel Halo Remix)
05. Every Night (Blake Mills Remix)
06. Run Me Through (King Princess Remix)
Shapely summer tour dates:
06.08.18 – Forest Hills, NY – Forest Hills Stadium (w/ Belle and Sebastian)
06.13.18 – Madrid, Spain – Mad Cool Festival
06.14.18 – Lisbon, Portugal – Passeio Maritimo de Alges
08.08.18 – Santa Barbara, CA – Santa Barbara Bowl (w/ Bon Iver)
08.10.18 – San Francisco, CA – Outside Lands Festival
If Grimes and Elon Musk broke the internet, Yanny and Laurel are here to absolutely demolish the remains. Those seemingly meaningless names took the internet by storm yesterday and will likely linger until the next meme circulation cycle. The question of “Yanny or Laurel” is kind of like the audio version of “the … More »
Not one to rest on herself, Laurel Halo has shared a veritable slew of live dates in the familiar lands of the United States and Europe for all you hardcore Halo’ers out there (and I know you’re out there). The tour, which starts TODAY (or maybe has already started; I’m not familiar with European time zones), will drop off at all your favorite coastal cities and cultural hubs and will feature several dates with NYC percussionist/composer Eli Keszler — because touring alone is a lot like dining for one at Olive Garden: really just kind of gross.
Earlier this year, Laurel Halo gifted to the world her latest album, Dust, which went quadruple-ultra-super-platinum in the eyes of some of us here at the TMT offices and landed her a richly deserved slot on our 2017 Second Quarter Favorites feature. So, look for this tour on our upcoming 2017 Fourth Quarter Favorite Tours feature (just kidding, that’s not a thing).
At any rate, if you would like to get dusted (and happen to live in one of the major markets in North America and Western Europe), check out the full list of dates, either on the very bold and colorful official tour poster, or on the drab and matter-of-fact white space below these very words. Aren’t you glad to live in the 21st century where you can have options?!
10.05.17 – London, UK – St. John of Hackney *
10.05.17 – London, UK – NTS X Frieze [DJ set]
10.07.17 – Dublin, UK – DBD *
10.11.17 – Krakow, Poland – Unsound Festival *
10.12.17 – Genoa, Italy – Electropark Festival *
10.13.17 – Leeds, UK – Headrow House *
10.14.17 – Sheffield, UK – No Bounds Festival *
10.15.17 – Manchester, UK – Soup Kitchen *
10.19.17 – Zagreb, Croatia – Klub Močvara
10.20.17 – Prague, Czech Republic – Lunchmeat Festival *
10.27.17 – Cologne, Germany – Week-End Festival *
10.28.17 – Bergen, Norway – Ekko Festival *
11.03.17 – Turin, Italy – Club2Club
11.10.17 – Berlin, Germany – Ableton Loop, Funkhaus Berlin *
11.11.17 – Zurich, Switzerland – RBMA Weekender *
11.18.17 – Athens, Greece – St. Paul’s Sessions *
11.24.17 – Brooklyn, NY – Elsewhere [DJ set]
11.26.17 – Philadelphia, PA – First Unitarian Church *
11.27.17 – New York, NY – The Kitchen *
11.28.17 – New York, NY – The Kitchen *
11.30.17 – Seattle, WA – Kremwerk
12.01.17 – San Francisco, CA – Grey Area *
12.03.17 – Portland, OR – Holocene *
12.04.17 – Los Angeles, CA – Zebulon *
“My sound is probably a matter of simultaneously having that no-mind mentality, that floating in the ether quality, while still having an amount of soul and a certain amount of emotion — without venturing too far into either territory. That region between virtual and actual.”
– Laurel Halo, interview with The Quietus, 2011
“There’s a lot of weight to the word “dust,” in terms of a process of change, or a process of becoming, or a process of resolution.”
– Laurel Halo, interview with The FADER, 2017
Dust, Laurel Halo’s third full-length, is bright and loose, a collection of tracks dancing at the borders of entropy. United in their restlessness, they probe at the foundations of structure and form, always unfolding, always moving towards. In Halo’s hands, that aforementioned liminal space “between virtual and actual” becomes bathed in warm sunlight, and her music responds in kind: melting and molding itself into hazy shapes, all the while retaining a sharpness that rends and sutures. Exploratory and improvisational, Halo and her collaborators — Klein, Lafawndah, Eli Keszler, Julia Holter, Max D, Craig Clouse (of Shit and Shine), Michael Beharie, Diamond Terrifier, Michael Salu — have created a soundworld of productive tensions and rich vibrations, flecked with beauty, felicity, and humor.
The album begins with the inside-out dub of “Sun to Solar,” an assemblage of jaunty keys, skulking bass, and mutating voices. Its giddy, staccato mien brings to mind some of Arthur Russell’s dancefloor excursions, the groove discontinuous, heady — part mist and part smog. Its components dance around each other, churning and shuffling, coinciding for a measure before returning to flux. The lyrics are similarly diaphanous: spoken from several positions simultaneously, colliding with each other, hovering above legibility. With grace and precision, the stage is set, the listener brought gently into this nomadic network of sounds, one whose shifting mesh is always making space for spontaneous emergences, potentialities, and virtualities.
Album highlight “Jelly” is more compressed, favoring curt and close sounds, with its claps sharp and melodies curved. Halo’s lyrics are cunning, striking out sharply (“You don’t meet my ideal standards for a friend/ And you are a thief/ And you drink too much,”) before turning inward (“Sometimes I know/ Not to drink too much”). It’s a fractured poetics, referential and pointed, a series of directions and relations, crossing and uncrossing (“My eyes/ Back there/ In the/ Mirror/ Where I/ Left them”). Like those eyes, the music moves, taking up positions, occupying space, becoming mediated by glass and glassy digitalia alike. These movements are seamless and their transitions fluid, guided by texture and resonance.
“Jelly’s” lyrics betray an undercurrent of darkly comic surrealism that becomes more apparent on tracks like “Moontalk” and “Syzygy.” The former is perched on the verge of becoming, accumulating sonic detritus — voicemail jingles, laughter, clicks and whirrs — and packing them into disarming pop constructions that explode in volleys of bright color and noise. Buoyed by this insistent motion, Halo finds herself in a speculative mode: “And what if in your sight/ You met a charging tank/ Their shells had no aftertaste/ And the soldiers went down fine.” Gorging herself on tanks and soldiers, Halo’s protagonist dances on the thin wedge separating actual and virtual, as strings surge and a mobile guitar figure tumbles past her; the comic and the tragic, the morbid and the joyful running through each other like jet streams.
On “Szygy,” ambulatory bass and polymorphic, insectoid textures serve as the ground for Halo’s oneiric, quasi-Thelma and Louise narrative (“I was in a death-devil’s car/ She said get ready”). Again, her surrealism is pointed, using its dream-drift to touch on female solidarity (“Then she licked my leg/ And gave me some sisterly advice”) and escapism. Like the heroine in a Kathy Acker novel, these characters puncture the boundaries of the social and enter into new territory both fraught with danger and rife with potential.
In astronomy, the word “szygy” means “a conjunction or opposition, especially of the moon with the sun,” an apposite description of Halo’s compositional approach on Dust, which revels in (dis)continuities, loops, and interconnections. Szygy is also the name of a digital branding agency, whose aim, according to their website, is to produce “The greatest happiness for the greatest number.” This utilitarian approach to happiness has been used by some of the world’s biggest brands, including Facebook, for their controversial (read: neocolonial) internet.org project. It is indicative of the artful nature of this album, its sly attentiveness to the sonic geographies and political textures of the contemporary, that this connection is both felicitous and unsurprising.
Dust is then a remarkable accumulation of disruptions and attachments, gaseous parts and shifting centres. Coherent in their incoherence, playful in their experimentalism, its tracks unfold smoothly, their trunks buzzing with magnetism, attracting the attention of pealing bells, skronking sax, and dub-techno beats. Like Arthur Russell, this is pop music as experiment, a meshing together of approaches and traditions, a playful mixture of tone poems, percussive excursions, and off-kilter melody. It feels liberatory, easy. Throughout, Laurel Halo acts as the animating force, that which marshals collaborators and sounds alike, threading them through each other, so that they may swirl and probe, laugh and dance, before disappearing into a haze of delightful noise.
Welcome, everybody, to 2017, where the album release dates are made up and traditional marketing doesn’t matter! Ahead of the official release of Laurel Halo’s third LP Dust on Friday, Hyperdub has made the entire album available for streaming on their Soundcloud page. Is this a thank you gift to the world for doing all we can to survive the unprecedented geopolitical hell we currently find ourselves in? Seems likely.
Of course, you’re thinking: that news isn’t substantial enough to devote an entire article to, right? Well, as USUAL, you’d be wrong…but, in this case, there is indeed more to the story: Laurel Halo has some new tour dates! I know, I know, you should be very excited — particularly if you live in New York or a major population center in Europe (that’s a hint). You can check out the full list of those glorious, feed-topping, click-baiting, hype cycle-revving tour dates below…you know, after the FULL STREAM OF LAUREL HALO’S NEW ALBUM.
(Dust ostensibly arrives on store shelves June 23, but I’m not sure what that even means anymore.)
Laurel Halo-go-round, 2.0:
06.22.17 – London, UK – Corsica (Album launch with Covco & Otolith Group) [DJ set]
06.23.17 – Berlin, Germany – OHM (Album launch with Kode9, Amnesia Scanner, Linnea) [DJ set]
07.07.17 – Oslo, Norway – Blaa [DJ set]
07.21.17 – New York, NY – Issue Project Room
07.22.17 – New York, NY – MoMA PS1 Warmup [DJ set]
08.11.17 – Hamburg, Germany – Kampnagel Festival
08.12.17 – Hannover, Germany – TBA
08.23.17 – Kiev, Ukraine – Brave! Festival
It’s worth paying special attention to a coming-of-age story when it’s presented by Klein, because the London-based artist is just now getting her musical footing subsequent to a childhood infused with “intense” religiosity. She remarked in a recent interview on how neither her mom nor the rest of her Nigerian family are aware that she makes music, and her mom in particular would, according to Klein, only approve if demi-goddess Beyoncé herself got on the ringer to spout effusive praise of the decidedly abstract musician’s work.
TMT, however, has a much lower threshold for success than that; so here we stand, ready to embrace Klein with open arms following the release of her debut album ONLY (one of our favorites of 2016), as well as her follow-up EP Lagata (she also has a guest spot on Laurel Halo’s upcoming album).
Next up on Klein’s gradual journey toward the all-elusive Grammy’s invite: a “coming-of-age musical piece centered around youth, love and death,” premiering July 7 at London’s New Music Biennial, a non-profit event dedicated to promoting boundary-pushing music from around the UK. Klein’s new piece is said to combine “operatic undertones” with “traditional Shakespearian tragedies,” and if you’re familiar with her work so far, you’d freely posit those themes/styles to be right in her wheelhouse.
Here’s more info on the upcoming event, and in the mean time, check out Klein’s video for “Marks of Worship” and her collaboration with Laurel Halo down below: