Laurel Halo – Chance of Rain
Laurel Halo really doesn’t seem to care about what anyone else in music is doing, and why should she with an album as great as Chance of Rain? On last year’s equally individual Quarantine, bearing little resemblance to this record, one of the most notable aspects was Halo’s voice. It was a divisive aspect of an equally divisive album that many loved (it was voted Wire magazine’s #1 of 2012) whilst some others had a much more lukewarm reaction to it, including myself personally.
Well, on this album she forgoes singing entirely and it’s certainly the correct decision: these songs would feel bloated with the amount of things often happening if there were any singing going on as well.
The only real resemblance between the two albums comes from their cover arts’ obsession with death. That is where the resemblance ends – Quarantine’s cover is a much more colourful take on a horrific situation, compared to Chance of Rain’s gloomy, dark and incredibly spacious cover. It sums up the album and its complicated sci-fi soundscapes. Like the artwork, the music occasionally seems to stop. The music doesn’t ever actually stop, but suddenly a fast-paced beat driven song will just give up and transform into something much more ambient. This is not at all a negative though, as these contrasts rarely happen but when they do, they are used to great effects.
An interesting choice of Halo’s is to bookend the album with two short piano led arrangements. They took me a long time to warm to, and being Halo songs they are certainly not ordinary classical arrangements, with effects all over the shop. But like the rest of the album, my enjoyment of them grew with each listen. One thing that is very important to state is how they never felt out of the place as the whole album is so stylistically varied throughout and seems especially interested in toying with both maximalist and minimalist sounds constantly.
Chance of Rain is a dark experience as its name suggests but that is no reason to be afraid of listening to it. With every listen, I seem to discover something new within the album and even if it isn’t always easy to articulate why, I consistently find myself drawn to the album and am sure I will be listening for a long time.