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laurel halo - Quarantine
Laurel Halo's 'Quarantine' is one of the most compelling debut albums we've heard this year. Ever since she revealed the hyper-fused kinetics of 2010's 'King Felix' EP, there's been a certain weight of expectation on this unique artist, which has evidently been fulfilled with the likes of her technofied 'Hour Logic' and 'Spring' EPs, plus the criminally overlooked ambient holo-spaces of the 'Antenna' cassette for NNA Tapes. Yet, if you still haven't been convinced of her skills, a newly established connection with the esteemed Hyperdub and the utter brilliance of this album - from the sounds to the artwork - should be ringing your bells. Blessed with a dilated scope exceeding the bandwidth of her peers, Laurel projects a beguiling new sound oozing futurist pop spirit and prone to seeking the enigmatic integers of synthesized dissonance with the questing vision of a psychonaut pharmacist hungry for ever more surreal sensations. She achieves this rarified, altered state with subtle tweaks of a constantly evolving formula: for the most suspending her largely unadorned vocals in shapeless, abstract spheres full of instinctively frictional textures - as with the lushly nauseating opener 'Airborne' or 'Years' - or jarring the senses with the illusory, almost intangible effects applied to 'Thaw' or 'Carcass', whilst the expressive delivery of LP closer 'Light + Space' leaves her teetering on the limen, resolving her most important recorded statement to date with the guiding, human perception that "Words are just words/that you soon forget", succinctly implying the listener leave behind literal realities and join her purer dream/trauma states. Alongside Actress' 'R.I.P.', Julia Holter's 'Tragedy' and Oneohtrix Point Never's 'Replica', this very special record is bound to resonate for some time. A huge recommendation.