That Laurel Halo's debut release for Honest Jon's Records, In Situ, is described as a double EP is the first clue that she's working on a more intimate scale than she did on her acclaimed Hyperdub albums, Quarantine and Chance of Rain. Borrowing its name from the Latin phrase meaning "in its original place," the set finds her taking a technical, almost scientific approach to experimental techno. Halo puts a handful of elements -- asymmetric beats, buried melodies, some filters -- in each track and seems to let them combine and collide at will, with many sounds landing in places just outside the norm. The impatient kick drum that drives "Situation" could be powered by errant gusts of wind; a tiny, slippery melody bubbles up here and there between "Drift"'s muffled percussion. There are no drastic developments here -- the way "Shake"'s beat evaporates as it draws to the close is the closest In Situ comes to drama -- and the overall effect is lulling, but Halo creates distinct moods despite her self-imposed limitations. "Nebenwirkungen," one of the fullest-sounding tracks, bristles with metallic-sounding activity, while the deceptively soft "Leaves" and "Focus I" contrast jazzy sophistication (brisk cymbals, glossy Fender Rhodes) with beats that do anything but lay down a steady rhythm. The results, like the rest of In Situ, are quietly fascinating, reaffirming that Halo doesn't have to make a grand statement to deliver another intriguing addition to her body of work.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares