Atlas by Laurel Halo album review by Greg Walker for Northern Transmissions



Laurel Halo

Fall is on its way. Here in Maryland, it’s beginning the painful descent into early nightfall, though this season is probably my favorite, for its nostalgic feel. Instead of turning on my lights tonight, which I usually do (I’m not a vampire, after all), I put on Laurel Halo’s new album, Atlas, and lay in the early dark listening to the forty minute instrumental album about traveling the world extensively, “to the point where everywhere almost became nowhere.”

Piano manipulation, melted strings, found sound, it is an ambient album with classical and jazz undertones. Something like if Radiohead or Sigur Ros did an ambient album, it is the epitome of “mood music.” The power of music to transport you, (especially listening in a dark room, like I was,) is the magic that this album works on its listener. Starting with maybe the most melty piece on the album, “Abandon,” I was sucked into the black hole, the backwards star, of Halo’s music, and enjoyed the duration.

There are tracks, like “Naked to the Light,” which washes you in sound like ephemeral sun rays. “Late Night Drive,” which many a person can relate to feeling, seeing the world only with your headlights, feeling the air rush in through your windows, or the heat blowing out of your vents onto your skin. I think it must be a strategic choice to release this album at the beginning of Fall, when feelings deepen and like she titles one of her tracks, we are “Reading the Air.” And it is like a wonderfully written poem that we read in the air.

I had not heard of Laurel Halo before, but my introduction through this album only increases my burgeoning interest in ambient music. And perhaps I will spend some other Fall nights in my room, in the dark, washed in her otherworldly sounds. The warped but celestial sound only gives added meaning to the last piece, titled “Earthbound.” All that we experience, as heavenly as it is, is to us humans, bound to the earth by gravity. When we travel, we use roads, we use an “Atlas,” as the album is titled. We all share that gravity, that geography, that sadness and triumph.

“We are spiritual creatures having a human experience,” the saying goes. Halo is able to relay the feelings of anxiety, euphoria, beauty and distress, and many other feelings, in the ten tracks that she recorded with her friends. It is an artistic feat worthy of note, and I wonder what these songs would sound like in a live setting, if that would even be possible. For now, turn out the lights in your room, put on the speakers and headphones, and get lost and found, in a world that is stranger than fiction and more beautiful than we could ever imagine.

order Atlas by Laurel Halo HERE

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Atlas by Laurel Halo album review by Greg Walker for Northern Transmissions

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