Laurel Halo is a Michigan born, now LA-based composer, producer and DJ whose latest record Atlas is perhaps one of the most high-brow offerings to today’s new release climate. Self-described as a ‘subconscious’ journey through time and space, Atlas belongs nowhere else than in some of East London’s finest juice bars, decorated only by a plethora of exotic, yet flourishing houseplants. I can imagine the highly mineralised hipsters who dwell in said settings listen to nothing other than NTS, which stands Laurel Halo in good stead for this record as she has, you’ve guessed it, a bi-weekly show there entitled ‘Awe’, which she describes as “something you feel when confronted with forces beyond your control: nature, the cosmos, chaos, human error, hallucinations.” Are you beginning to get the picture?
I hope you, reader, understand that my need to prey on a few clichés comes from a place of sincere jealousy, emanating from the fact that here is a tremendously academic individual who has seamlessly created such a totally captivating piece of work. This is an exceptional example of translating theory into practice; Atlas is none other than a pragmatic achievement. Each track blends into the next, held together by fuzzily sustained textures impossible to fully grasp. The record is otherworldly, but littered with subtle piano parts which bring you home just at the vital points, forcing you to feel grounded once again.
Atlas combines numerous musical vernaculars to create an unending, modern minimalist triumph which stands tall alongside groundbreaking titles such as Brian Eno’s Music for Airports and Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians. A wonderfully refreshing and worthwhile listen.