Named after the artiest porn film ever short, Behind the Green Door sees New Yorker Laurel Halo return to the beat-driven work of her earlier EPs on Hippos in Tanks. In contrast to the glassy ambience of lauded debut album Quarantine, Green Door finds the classically-trained producer dropping four intricate but bruising chunks of bass music, each of which takes Hyperdub’s trademark envelope-pushing electronica and pushes it even further.
While Quarantine played with hazy textures and Halo’s melancholy vocals, Green Door is rhythmic, showing off half speed bass drops, drums like mallets and planting the seeds of arrhythmia in every listener. ‘Uhffo’ features a gut-punching syncopated techno beat coloured in with mewling beats, and an alien-sounding pad that’s been strained till it sounds like it’s in labour. It builds on the impact of the opening ‘Throw’ where a piano line competes with a rough-hewn kick drum, soon becoming a dub techno/industrial house mutant with the kind of intricate bass drop that Halo can sniff out like black truffles.
The slightly longer side B is more exploratory, edging back to murkier territory as visited by Quarantine. The softened yet fast-paced ‘Noyfb’ has a beat edged with woodblock, didgeridoo and the fluttering synths that made her album so distinctive. Once that’s settled, she drops rippling bass, then fades in some other-worldly choirs. These aren’t just ideas she’s grabbed and thrown into a mixing bowl: each new element takes the track somewhere new, lifting Halo out of any groove you might begin to assume she’s caught in. Though it’s hard to imagine working on a Saturday night dance floor it’s even harder to resist bobbing up and down to it.
The EP is rounded off by the relentless ‘Sexmission’ which fuses all the key ingredients of Behind the Green Door: a thuggy 4/4 bass beat awash with dub static, keyboards pulsing like a meltdown alarm, off-key reverberating piano. It’s as direct and aggressive as any of Halo’s floor-orientated material, and shows that, while she may turn more heads with more compositional, vocal-driven tracks, Hyperdub and Halo can move into new areas, one where syncopated drum lines break for vintage warehouse rhythms and the chill-out room has been invaded by pianists and a house DJ.
8George Bass's Score