One of the cruelest (and brilliant) loose ends left untied, in literature, occurs in Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece 1984. When the novel’s hero Winston becomes incarcerated by the Thought Police — just after discovering a life worth living without Big Brother — he becomes imprisoned by the government at the Ministry of Love. He sees other prisoners go before him, all begging to not be thrown into the mysterious Room 101. We never find out specifically what’s behind the door of Room 101. All we know it’s that it’s “the worst thing in the world,” where prisoners are forced to confront their greatest fears.
Similarly, minimalist electronic composer Laurel Halo conjures beats from a place of phobia, resulting in cathartic listens like last year’s quivering Quarantine. She’s returned with a pulsating EP, Behind the Green Door. It sheds Halo’s wrenching vocals viscerally present on the previous full-length, and amplified with the downtempo experimentation of the Berlin electronic scene.
So what’s behind Halo’s green door? Like the contents behind Room 101, we can only speculate — but it’s likely not pleasant. From the very beginning, the baritone thuds of “Throw” plunge into the listener with a razorsharp blade, made spookier by an out-of-tune piano carrying the melody.
Much like her peer Holly Herndon, Halo’s compositions are studious pieces meticulously constructed to extract an element of humanity within the machine. The wonder is how they manage to render you conscious of your own movement in the world. “UHFFO” whirrs with a tittling hi-hat, a mind and heart racing underneath. You don’t hear your heart pounding with the thumps of “NOYFB”, you hear the gulps of blood as they pass through veins.
Once the glimpse behind the green door shuts with the seven-minute “Sex Mission”, you’re left with an even bigger set of questions. How can Halo can make a simple piano chord to resound as profoundly evil? When do beats transcend machine into the sound of synapses firing? Like Halo’s previous work, Behind The Green Door coos the listener to listen often and closely, while instilling that sense of intrigue that unexplained mysteries leave you with.
Essential Tracks: “Throw”, “Sex Mission”