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laurel halo - Hour Logic EP
Ever since she first pinged our radar last year, we've been following Laurel Halo with interest, but nothing could've prepared us for the clock-melting brilliance of this new EP for Hippos In Tanks. It's the kind of record that defies easy categorisation, but suffice to say Laurel has honed and expanded her sound into a kind of dizzying psychedelic techno that we just can't get enough of. 'Aquifer' sets the heady tone - beginning with Moomin tones that'd make both Scratcha and Conrad Schnitzler proud, it builds into a surging 4/4 stepper, decorated with cascading strings and opalescent synths in a distinct Rhythim Is Rhythim style. On 'Constant Index', her vocals come to the fore, albeit layered into vast washes of wordless ambient harmony; it sounds like This Mortal Coil reconfigured for the 21st century, just gorgeous. On the dubbier, more minimal 'Head' there are even shades of Basic Channel, while Speed Of Rain uses a future-garage chassis - with clipped junglist breaks hanging off it - to scale true cosmic heights. 'Strength In Free Space' is expansive, new age-inflected drift music but positively dwarfs most of her peers' work with its extravagant, cathedral-like architecture, and the masterful title track still has us tingling. With so many contemporary US synth artists sounding like dull facsimiles of each other, Laurel Halo has actually developed her own uniquely sensuous yet uncompromising sonic identity, one which you can't predict from one moment to the next, and which looks boldly towards the future. Hats off.