Saturday, December 15, 2012

Song of the day

"Sunlight On The Faded", by Laurel Halo.

There is a little ritual that I have where, every year, when The Wire magazine announces its best albums from the year just gone, I go out and buy a copy of the one that has been voted Number 1. I'm not sure why I do this, other than force of habit, but it is a magazine whose tastes tend to veer a little bit left of centre of my own comfort zone, but not too far, so I am likely to find something that stays with me but that I might not have otherwise checked out. (Mind you, I'm still struggling to make sense of last year's: Simon Reynolds described it as the audio equivalent of Jeff Koons, and I'm not inclined to disagree. Whether that makes it essential listening is another question.)

So, if the rumours are true, and Laurel Halo's "Quarantine" gets the nod this year, nobody would be happier than me. One, because it would be a truly deserving winner. Two, because it saves me some money, on account of I have had my own copy for quite some time. There are a number of artists presently working in what would be termed, loosely, the "electronic" field who are doing some very interesting, very listenable and yet very experimental work at the moment. James Blake and Nicolas Jaar didn't put out albums this year, but alongside "Quarantine" we were treated to work at various points along the present cutting edge from Burial (with one more to come, any minute now), Flying Lotus, Four Tet, the artist normally known as Caribou but this year known as Daphni -- whatever he chooses to call himself, I'm listening -- and, a late entrant for my own album of the year, Andy Stott.

Anyway, rather than being content to rest on her, ahem, laurels, Laurel Halo has followed up "Quarantine" in double-quick time with this single (it has an equally compelling dub version on the verso), which is kind of like the album but with a layer or two of "difficulty" stripped away. Her voice is still so exposed as to sit on the edge of uncomfortable (for the listener) but the music is, while still constructed of sounds that could never have existed in your grandfather's day, a little more direct and compelling.

Actually, to heck with it. I don't have much in the way of words for this song. Listen closely and absorb.