When: Sun., Sept. 30, 8 p.m. 2012
Brooklyn-based Laurel Halo makes electronic music that overlaps with techno and synth-pop, but she operates outside the dizzying profusion of microgenres in current EDM. Like LA's Julia Holter or Estonia's Maria Minerva, both of whom played in town last week, she's developed a sound that's idiosyncratic and distinctive—never more so than on the recent Quarantine (Hyperdub). Some tracks have beats pushed out to their periphery, and some use only a fixed, driving pulse, with no percussion; Halo's imperfect voice occupies the foreground, often in thickly stacked harmonies, suggesting a kind of futuristic intuitive folk. "Years" is dark and foreboding, not so much because of its lyrics (about a clean break from an unhealthy relationship) but because it begins as a poppy little number and then destabilizes as it progresses—Halo's voice swoops down into a male-sounding range, and cycling synth patterns decay into abstraction. "Thaw" opens with dissonant and unsettling electronic noise, then coalesces into a harrowing but bittersweet lost-love confessional ("Is it raining, is it pouring? / Love is falling out of my eye"). The disjunctions don't end with the music, either: the album cover, by Japanese artist Makoto Aida, appears at first glance to be a painting of a group of schoolgirls dancing, but look twice and you'll see that they're all committing suicide with swords. —Peter Margasak Ital headlines; Laurel Halo, Magic Touch, and M. Geddes Gengras open.