Laurel Halo – In Situ
Having listened to this surprise new Honest Jon’s release from Laurel Halo several times over, there was a point somewhere in closing track “Focus 1” where some short sampled breathes first made themselves known. In amidst the supple piano tones, unpredictable beat down drum programming, and whatever other instruments used and deployed to wondrous effect, the appearance of this human element jutted me out of my becalmed state. This is just one example of the little details there are to uncover and explore within the eight tracks on In Situ.
Wedged somewhere between an album and a double pack, In Situ finds Laurel Halo drawing ever more intriguing patterns from her chosen machinery. Rhythms never appear set in stone, instead changing form and feel within the duration of a track to explore different avenues before momentarily settling on a groove. Around this, the other elements act in kind, bristling with a sense of unpredictability that is initially hard to get a grip of. The first few times I listened to In Situ, there was an alien feeling, a sense of detached coldness that stopped me from embracing the record as much as I wanted to.
In Situ, however, gradually became the soundtrack of choice on the many chilly morning dog walks through the leafy suburbs of northern Seattle that made up my holiday last month. Even listening now it feels hard to quantify this was not ever the case. The vast basslines on opener “Situation” fill you with a hungry smile, and “Drift” delights with the charming soft notes that flutter over the crumbling rhythmic foundations. These little details ease their way into your affections, with two of the tracks in particular standing out, despite their relatively disparate nature.
The aforementioned “Focus 1” has a delicate blend of rugged and sweetness that you could easily mistake the skittering production for an old Sound Signature B-side from Theo Parrish. Adopting the German word for side effects, “Nebenwirkungen” features the strange sounds of unidentified wildlife nestled deep in the mix as Halo draws the listener deeper into a particularly fraught dub techno wormhole. The closest comparison I could muster to describe the track is Moritz Von Oswald jamming with Dresvn, two names with varying levels of affiliation to Honest Jon’s. Maybe the fact Halo has joined the West London label shouldn’t be so surprising after all?
8. Focus 1