By Rick Golson
(Riley + Nick, New Music Directors)
Our first “pick of the weak” goes to Chance of Rain, the new LP by Michigan-born, New York-based producer Laurel Halo. It’s her second release on Hyperdub, the first being 2012’s Quarantine (named album of the year by The Wire). She’s also released material on Hippos In Tanks and collaborated on FRKWYS 7 with abstract electronic bros James Ferraro, David Borden, Sam Godin, and Daniel Lopatin (Oneohtrix Point Never). But back to the album: Chance of Rain is a raw, dark record of live hardware compositions. Hi-hats jitter and synths pulse over clouds of noise with the occasional disembodied vocal sample. There’s a definite Detroit techno influence: the unrelenting force of Jeff Mills, the outer space synths of Juan Atkins and Terrence Dixon, the twitchy industrial smacks and deep funk bass lines of Omar-S. But this is a different breed of machine music; it feels looser, jazzier, more improvisational and urgent. There’s less funk, more paranoia. And as each throbbing track builds and contracts, you feel Halo thinking, sense her intentions. It’s a terrifying and stimulating ride.