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Possessed is, on the surface, a marked departure from Laurel Halo’s other records. Halo’s studio LPs/EPs have largely tended towards either club tracks, boundary-pushing electronic pop in the Oneohtrix Point Never mould, or a combination of the two. However, those styles are largely jettisoned on Possessed, the music she composed for the 2018 Metahaven/Rob Schröder film of the same name.
For the most part Possessed is characterised by impressionistic avant-garde compositions and contemporary art-music techniques. Sometimes this translates into warping, unsettling drones - see ‘Last Seen’ and ‘Lead’ on this count. At other moments we are presented with Halo’s variant takes on chamber music, taking shape as the prepared klavier of ‘Marbles’ or the more stately, almost high-Romantic ‘Cave Walk’ and trio of ‘Rome Themes’. The stirring playing of Oliver Coates (cello) and Galya Bisengalieva (violin) lends additional clout in these moments. We also have numbers such as ‘Breath’ and ‘Hyphae’, eerie soundscapes which drift in a space somewhere between the two styles detailed above.
However, when you take a step back and look at it as a whole, it is easy to see how Possessed fits into the Laurel Halo story. Halo’s music has often had a widescreen quality to it regardless of what genre she is working in at a given moment. While cuts like ‘Breath’ might have been retooled into more linear tracks on a Halo studio album, the way in which the cloaked melodies move in and out of focus is all Halo.
Laurel Halo’s score for 2018 Metahaven/Rob Schröder film Possessed allows her to expand her practice into a variety of classical and avant-garde styles without sacrificing her core sound.