Laurel Halo
Quarantine


3.5
great

Review

by Deviant STAFF
May 29th, 2012 | 56 replies | 11,174 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Episodes of an empty apartment and absentee cliff notes

Though not a piece commissioned exclusively for Laurel Halo’s full-length debut, it’s easy to draw parallels between Quarantine and Tokyo artist Makoto Aida’s Harakiri Schoolgirls. That it should serve as the artwork for Laurel’s first release on Kode9’s Hyperdub label is of little surprise: both art and music deal in similar ideas - something that should be seen as sickly sweet is instead presented as a gruesome spectacle. As an argument for the loss of innocence, Halo (real name Ina Cube) cultivates a similar disembodied premise, one that works through the idea of multiple identities and pseudonyms into a ghastly spectre of unfiltered raw emotion. That her bedrock should settle on the familiar is of no surprise (synth pop and rhythmic ambience are both principal factors here), it’s how Halo treats her sound that makes her simultaneously alluring yet frighteningly harrowing to absorb.

Interestingly, it’s the after effects of her music that resonate the most; while an indifferent and puzzling listen, Quarantine is a surprisingly easy pill to swallow. Those who bought in to James Blake’s open declarations of empathy and regret should have no trouble saddling a similar weight here. Both artists also approach their cause in a similar fashion: while Halo has never shied away from adopting her own musings into the puzzle, Quarantine freely employs its artist’s voice as its greatest weapon. Tracks are built on little more than a scratchy soot-laden synth arrangement and her own unpolished dialect. Bereft of layering and processing her words (when clearly discernible) take on an authoritative and powerful quality, they ache and crack under their own forcefulness.

What occasionally holds the album back, yet does nothing to offshoot the emotional core of Quarantine, is that many of the tracks here are intentionally disjointed, fragments of the idiosyncratic spirit that’s pioneered them. Much of the material here begins fully-formed, as if we’ve somehow overlooked their introduction and build and arrived instead only at some pivotal moment of their structure. Every frozen melody and monolithic rumble feels so laden down with not just detail but spiritual weight that Quarantine plays out like a journal – peppered with floating notes and snippets of self-worth rather than a clear narrative structure. Which ultimately gives the album its brazenly hypnotic allure, how it not so much avoids structure but instead takes the concept purely on its own terms. That the album’s proclivity to rattle rather than charm should feel so immense, be it through its illuminating yet jagged shards of humanity or through its crackling wall of sound delivery, it’s still based on an almost playful and youthful exuberance.

The album’s foreign identity is perhaps best summed up with ‘Thaw’, a track that awakens amidst the demise of its predecessor and shifts its woozy production into a paradigm of billowing basement dwelling percussion and the blanketing sounds of a distant storm. Laurel, as if reading from the dog-eared pages of a long misplaced journal, stands in the calm centre of this fury and matches the turmoil, not in aggression but with the same naïve dedication. Her words, here and the body of language that fills up the chamber halls of her world, seem recalled from another life but are treated with honesty and care – for Laurel, everything still remains as open and revealing as the day they were written.

Quarantine should be a humbling experience, but there’s a certain air of gravitas about the whole thing that makes it seem so much larger than life. The beauty of the album is that it somehow manages to balance its whimsical nature with the utterly alien landscape it chooses to employ. It ends up being a mixed bag of give and take, but as an assault on all senses it always manages to succeed.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 29th 2012



30873 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thaw: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LPa2VmyUyk
Carcass:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0DUUH9bjcM&feature=related
Light + Space: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5uNiyEfMdI

Also: http://www.tokyomango.com/.a/6a00d8341c5d3253ef0147e3c994f8970b-800wi

Digging: FaltyDL - In The Wild

auberginedreams
May 29th 2012



5989 Comments


cool art.

conradtao
Emeritus
May 29th 2012



2088 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

What a good album.

DoubtGin
May 29th 2012



6748 Comments


great album cover

Irving
Staff Reviewer
May 29th 2012



7140 Comments


CONRAD TAO SIGHTING.

FadedSun
May 29th 2012



1243 Comments


Yeah, that album cover is awesome.

Rev
May 29th 2012



9380 Comments


Need to hear this asap

FadedSun
May 29th 2012



1243 Comments


I'm listening to "Years" right now and the vocals are a huge turn off. Off key, bad pitch. I don't know if it was intentional, but it sounds really bad. Besides that, the music is really cool.

conradtao
Emeritus
May 29th 2012



2088 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's very, very, very, very intentional.

I don't get why people freak out about her voice..

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 29th 2012



30873 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Probably because people are used to studio perfection

fuckthatnoise
May 29th 2012



1479 Comments


the cover alone makes me want to listen to this.

conradtao
Emeritus
May 29th 2012



2088 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm working on a review for this, but in short her decision to not cloak her vocals in any reverb or put it through pitch correction seems to reflect the relationship between analog and digital that she explores in basically every song here

Thealwaysopenedmind
May 29th 2012



76 Comments


The cover makes me want to listen to it also. They look like anime characters.

Digging: Freddie Gibbs and Madlib - Pinata

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 29th 2012



30873 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's interesting that it's an idea she didn't explore immediately as well either, in regards to her earlier stuff

auberginedreams
May 29th 2012



5989 Comments


rev will probably 5 this based on the artwork alone.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 29th 2012



30873 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Enough about the damn cover!!

taylormemer
May 29th 2012



4913 Comments


Artwork isn't that amazing tbh.

chambered49
May 29th 2012



1727 Comments


lemme guess this is electronic music

conradtao
Emeritus
May 29th 2012



2088 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

My personal favorite of her catalog is the King Felix EP she released a couple of months ago. I didn't care much for Hour Logic and I'm not as familiar with her earlier work.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 29th 2012



30873 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

No that's all there is

But in regards to her approach it was a much simpler affair, this dichotomy of her trying to blur the lines between digital and analog hasn't really emerged until now



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