Thursday, 14 June 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #215 - Laurel Halo, "Quarantine"

There seem so many albums made at the moment that could be shelved in a creaking electronic dream pop category. This must have been like what the mid-Seventies prog reservoir was like, only on a much larger post-punk, anyone-can-do-it scale. A bit like people blogging about new albums. Another disease that has flared up big time.

I've read avant pop as a label, but I'm not sure. "Years" sounds like Bjork, but without the vocal acrobatics. Then the acrobatics are what gives Bjork's music the ecstatic drive that pop requires. So is this rock, according to my nascent taxonomy of what is what? Is there tension building? Is there propulsion enough for it to tick my techno box? I don't think so. So avant something then... It's too soon to have to re-think my categories again.

"Joy" should be a case in point. It percolates and pulsates in a scary fashion until everything slows and cools down into the sound of a motherboard breathing to itself. Maybe the sound of joy taking it easy. "MK Ultra" sounds even more like a less operatic version of Bjork, as though the musical impulses are the same but the resources and temperament are quite different, more muted and DIY. "Wow" is a massed bank of baby sighs and 10cc tributes, stacked up against the fire exit.

Sounds turn a bit darker on "Carcass", as you might expect and her vocal becomes wrapped in a suffocating plastic bag; the kind you should keep away from children. The album title gives me a little shiver as well, the tingly threat of contagion. As though the confusion at the heart or on the borders of this music could be infectious. Or that the love or excitement glimpsed at (like the snatches of "Just wanna be with you" on "Holoday") needs to be sealed away.

Space drift comes into the frame for "Nerve", which is possibly the least nervy track on the album. A bit of a HAL feel. Then "Light + Space" is the closest thing to a pop song on the album; not that it's important to categorise, of course. Of course, it isn't. No, no. Not at all. "Words are just words/That you soon forget", she sings.

More of that complexity, drifting past on the internet.

Rating: DIY Bjork out of Ecstatic UnPop

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