Ever wonder what the accompanying music would to a computer dying of a virus would sound like? If you have, then you’re in luck. If you haven’t you’re still in luck. Laurel Halo’s latest LP sounds like a fried motherboard collapsing on itself. Although this record is not for everyone if you’re into the Hyperdub label or into Halo’s past works, the sci-fi paranoia that is Quarantine will suite you just fine.
The first thing you’ll most likely notice on the record is Halo’s intense vocals. It can be an easy turnoff — it’s shrill, harsh and brass. But the moment you accept it and realize how well her sound meshes with the ever changing melodies and arrangements in the songs, the soon you will be able to enjoy the LP. Opener “Airsick” introduces Quarantine as it’s an easy way to dip your foot into Halo’s frigid, evil-tech water. The following track “Years” is where things take off, however. At least with her vocals. “Years” will be thing song that allows you to decide if you’re with Halo or against.
“MK Ultra” is a thrilling cut with beaming synths and layered vocals. But the standout “Carcass” really strikes a chord. It’s claustrophobic, eerie, demented and just creepy. The song builds up through what sounds like laser beams passing through mirrors and tight drumming. A wobbly wind synth cuts through the song until Halo enters: “A carcass/ A carcass,” she wails. Another great track is “Light + Speed,” perhaps the most accessible song on Quarantine. Halo’s vocals sound the most lush here and the schizoid music is crisp and actually pretty elegant. “Words are just words that you soon forget,” the songstress chants on the track’s hook.
There are many flashes of brilliance in most the tracks on Quarantine. The persistent sense of doom is captured almost perfectly here. Although Halo actually does have a beautiful voice (see Games’ (aka Ford & Lopatin) single “Strawberry Skies”) she is able to morph it into a futuristic sound that you’d expect the kids from Akira or someone from Blade Runner to listen to. It’s not an album everyone will enjoy or even like but given the chance, Halo’s music can reach deep into you and take you to a future place of dystopian awesomeness.
Listen to “Light + Speed” below: