Laurel Halo's Tribute to Space, Pause and the Dynamics of Recording

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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Laurel Halo (Courtesy of the artist/NPR)

New York City-based composer, vocalist and electronic-music artist Laurel Halo draws from traditions of drone music, Musique concrète, techno and pop to construct hazy compositions that inhabit a space between waking and dream states. She was a featured performer in last year's Ecstatic Music Festival, has participated in Poland’s Unsound Festival and will appear this summer as part of Barcelona’s Sónar Festival of Advanced Music and New Media. "Chance of Rain," Halo's second full-length album, was released in October 2013.

Like her own music, Halo's Mixtape features compositions that incorporate field recordings, early electronic instruments, bits of radio broadcasts and sampled sounds from various musical traditions to create otherworldly and often unsettling musical narratives. Included is music of early electronic music composer Vladimir Ussachevsky, influential Japanese composer and theorist Toru Takemitsu and the late opera pioneer Robert Ashley, who passed earlier this week and to whom Halo includes the following tribute:

"Robert Ashley's passing is very sad news. His music changed the way I think about space and pause in composition and the dynamics of recording. I made this mix a few weeks prior to its broadcast on Q2 Music and it is fitting that Purposeful Lady Slow Afternoon sets it off. I look forward to continued inspiration from his work."

Playlist

Robert Ashley – Purposeful Lady Slow Afternoon
Herbert Eimert – Klangstudie 2
Vivenza – Servomecanisme
Rashad Becker – Chants & Dances 3
Tom Dissevelt & Kid Baltan – Orbit Aurora
Vladimir Ussachevsky – Wireless Fantasy
Annea Lockwood – Vibrating Pane
Toru Takemitsu – Seasons
Jan Bark – Ach Chamberlin
Kuniharu Akiyama – Arcana 19 (Part 3)
Toshi Ichiyanagi – Music For Living Space
Poetics – Mr. Orgatron
Dada – Tuuen Inraaku Gaki
Laurel Halo – Melt
Tod Dockstader – Water Music Pt. 4
Paul Boisselet – Symphonie Jaune

Produced by:

Hannis Brown

Comments [6]

Steve from Washington DC

Captivating - definitely puts one is a different state of mind - wondering and wandering / XCellENT AdVenTure

Mar. 10 2014 03:59 PM
Silversalty from Brooklyn

I avoided commenting on this audio since it was first posted. But considering that it's still available via the "most" box I found that I couldn't sit by and not put in my "two cents."

I'll not comment on the music aspect. It does nothing for me but then that's my taste.

Rather it's the dialog of the first piece that I find offensive. On first listening I thought it was some sort of phone sex parody. Not sure, I did some checking and found this link -

http://www.waggish.org/2003/purposeful-lady-slow-afternoon-robert-ashley/

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The piece is ten minutes long. Over some distorted, inconspicuous bells and static, Cynthia Liddell details the story of a rape from the victim’s point of view in mostly (but not totally) descriptive terms. Ashley describes his aims as follows:

..................................................
My instructions [to friends] were simple: just describe a sequence of events, without any moral or psychological interpretation of those events, but include your sensory perceptual role in the events.
..................................................

Ashley found all submissions unsatisfactory and subjective, and he wrote this one himself. He says:

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The recording of this particular “description” got a lot of attention. Curiously, compared to some of the stories I heard, it has always seemed rather tame to me…It is the description that disturbs.
..................................................

Well, no. Ashley certainly puts together an unsettling piece of music, but not for the reasons Ashley believes. The writing is unremarkable, but because of the subject matter, it’s memorable. Most people don’t want to read or hear ten minutes of this sort of thing:

..................................................
His mouth was very wet. I remember he tried to touch his tongue as far down in my throat as he could reach. It choked me. I couldn’t swallow and I couldn’t breathe.
..................................................

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The composer asked "friends" to take the part of rape victims and describe what happened, but only in terms of sensory perceptions. No emotions, or more specifically as Ashley describes, "without any moral or psychological interpretation." Not surprisingly none of the responses were as detached as Ashley wanted. So he wrote his own dialog and had some automaton recite it.

What a dick.

Mar. 09 2014 04:26 PM
Thee Monkey's Claw

This is really fantastic. Love Laurel.

Mar. 06 2014 07:22 AM
Mark Cosby from Santa Monica, CA

Laurel Halo is amazing!

Thank you so much for giving her the platform to share this fascinating playlist.

Mar. 05 2014 04:05 PM
Greg Lester from Michigan

Thank you for having Laurel on your show, I've been a big fan of hers for a few years now and this mix is absolutely wonderful, she is a true genius with an obvious passion for forward-thinking music.

Mar. 05 2014 03:49 PM
Austin Clegg from England

I am a regular Q2 listener from Sussex, England. I greatly enjoy the whole range of what you play, especially when so many classical music channels play almost no music from the last 100 years. The once great BBC Radio 3 is a case in point.
Anyway, I am really enjoying Laurel Halo's set, on air as I write. Please tell her she now has at least one new fan in Europe and deserves many more!
Keep up the good work.

Mar. 05 2014 03:23 PM

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