Perennial Altered Zones favorite Laurel Halo keeps her sonic portfolio thick while remaining wholly enigmatic, which is never an easy task. Her steady torrent of remixes, collaborations, and original material also never disappoints, and the latest 12″ EP from the Brooklyn-via-Ann Arbor sound architect, Hour Logic, offers an icy, 34-minute excursion across manifold vistas of mind-bending electronica.
Compared to last year’s King Felix release, Hour Logic is a darker, more cerebral collection of cyber-punk pop– one that sees Laurel Halo balancing her melodic sensibilities with digital ambience and deftly sculpted soundscapes. The polyrhythmic glitch of hypnotic opener “Aquifer,” the smooth and mechanical “Hour Logic,” and the angular “Speed of Rain” evoke ’90s IDM heavy-hitters like Plaid and Squarepusher, while free-floating, galactic meditations like “Strength in Free Space” and “Head” would form a perfect soundtrack to a SETI listening party. Where Laurel Halo‘s talent really soars, however, is “Constant Index”– an amalgam of stratospheric electronics and the reverb-dripping vocals we all know and love from King Felix and Games’ “Strawberry Skies” (which is now now Ford & Lopatin’s).
But “Constant Index” is kind of the anomaly. Despite moments of tightly wound and accessible song structure [can you clean this up? if “constant index” is the only “song” on the album, can we really call this song structure], Hour Logic represents a shift away from the vox-driven pop that first put her on the map– foreshadowed, in part, by her entirely instrumental set at Altered Zones’ South By Southwest showcase this year. On the cusp of becoming quite the breakthrough artist [awk], Laurel Halo is making the bold move of venturing into more abstract territory, and it’s hard not to admire an artist who is willing to challenge herself and her audience. Be advised, she’s a shapeshifter.