The displaced midwesterner on her ‘black box’ recordings
“inever really set out to write a pop song, it’s more that I set out to write a good song,” says Laurel Halo as she seeks to unravel the mysteries surrounding her latest album, Dust. The 31-year-old producer, born in Michigan and resident in Berlin, has long been a cult concern courtesy of two hallucinogenic albums for Hyperdub, Quarantine (2012) and Chance Of Rain (2013), and a career that blurs the art/rave divide. Reining in her sci-fi tendencies, Dust is a more earthy affair full of twists and turns, as Halo saunters between busted jazz and unorthodox grooves. “I knew I wanted to incorporate words and acoustic instruments, and have it be loose, mellow and open-feeling, but that’s about it,” she says. Dust took shape during her two-week residency one January at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center in upstate New York. “It was bitterly cold outside and I was deep inside a giant black box running various percussion sounds through effects chains. I read Octavia Butler, drank by myself in the evenings and ate random food. Plus I recorded with a lot of dream instruments I hadn’t had access to before, like a Disklavier and vibraphone, and a beautifully mic’d drum kit.
“My hope,” she adds, “is that Dust helps people process their shit the way it helped me to.”