Laurel Halo

Chance of Rain

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During the first half of 2013, Laurel Halo followed Quarantine, a polarizing album placed at number one on The Wire's releases of the year feature for 2012, with her second and third releases for Hyperdub. First, there was "Sunlight on the Faded," an inviting vocal track, and then there was the Behind the Green Door, an alternately raw and oddly pacifying four-track EP of instrumentals. The latter pointed the way toward Chance of Rain, which doesn't seem to have any thematic continuity with Halo's gleaming Hour Logic highlight "Speed of Rain." The album could be shaped into an EP of steely, hard-hitting dancefloor techno, but it would require the stripping of several layers and the removal of so many twists and turns. Opened with a short, seemingly off-the-cuff piece led by electric piano, and closed with an acoustic piece of similar length and lightness, the album contains some of Halo's least colorful yet most imaginative material. Two of the earlier tracks are among the album's most challenging. "Oneiroi" is mostly agitated percussion and sweeping effects, while "Serendip" churns and stirs with muffled bass drums and dulled pings. The later likes of "Chance of Rain" and "Thrax," however, are thrillingly active. The former sternly trucks with an electric piano pattern that seems obtrusive at first but essential by the time the beat exits. "Thrax" is something else, full of superbly warped swarming sounds over rhythms that seem to gather momentum with each measure. Halo's voice is never heard -- likely a relief for those who found Quarantine too unsettling -- but this is about as jolly as the cover illustration, drawn by her father.

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