Category Archives: Laurel Halo

Best of 2011, part II: Resurrection of the Synthesist

Given our name, it’s no secret that we gorge on electronic sound, be it discomforting or transcendent.  Guttural or sublime.

We’re forever wary of confirmation bias but this year does seem to have seen wave upon wave of synth based music.  Not just music that features a synth but music that’s built around the synth, great cathedrals constructed to encapsulate the idea of making synthetic sounds that by their design are alien and other.  Except, they’re not anymore.  Thirty years of indoctrination has made the music of the synths mean something else.  A piece of retro nostalgia at one moment, something transgressive the next.  Often extremely beautiful in that airbrushed way that was once cliche but now — as the world folds in on its credit default swapped self –seems aspirational; utopian.

So this then, is our loosely assembled collection of synth focussed tracks which, like a good Bela Tarr movie, create a world and give us time to think within its borders.


Jonas Reinhardt: Eos, the Dawn In 2011, Jonas Reinhardt returned to these warm zones: constantly maintained by solar winds and the unfathomably complex gravitational dance moves of the planets.

Speeding through the heavens of blue refracted light that bounce freely off of vast glassed worlds, before slowing to take in the cresting of a sun over its many orbiting bodies.  Eos, the Dawn holds itself in a perfect moment before the god of arpegiated synth pulses rises from her slumber to usher in a new day.  Below a strange planet populated by sentient piers springs into life, their symbiotic Wurlitzers emerging out of the wooden decks like budding flowers to pipe a salute to the new day.

Jonas Reinhardt – Eos, the Dawn

Buy: Music for the Tactile Dome


Gatto Fritto: S/T Beachy Head is a beautiful suicide spot in the Sussex coast not far away from Brighton. It is the place depicted in the front cover of Throbbing Gristle’s 20jazzfunkgreats, and soundtracked in a most foreboding manner in the selfsame record. It also seems to be a place that Gatto Fritto, one of the most accomplished sages of the neo-Kosmische diaspora has given some thought to. His Beachy Head is a wonderful quantum waltz that stares not at the maelstrom swirling below, but at a night sky above, where subtle shifts in the luminosity of the constellations reveal a soothing message of galactic rebirth.

Gatto Fritto: Beachy Head

Buy: S/T.


Eric Enocksson: Apan Ramble through the hazy palace of your past, and into a cellar of gentle ruins where you collect memories of those pets that grew up with you, and grew old and frail and one day, died.  Bask in the portentous sadness of a wordless farewell, sweetened by the remembrance of the joy that was, and your ability to love, which is also the root of all your tears.  Now picture a dynasty of galactic shepherds whose flock is of planets and constellations, and of the races that thrived and decayed and perished therein, their affection and ache as great as yours, but stretched over aeons of blackness, interrupted by a blinding light, once in a while, once in a while.

Across which echoes a song like this.

Erik Enocksson – IV

Buy: Apan.


Borden/Ferraro/Godin/Halo/Lopatin: FRKWYS Vol. 7 One of the many strands that compose our love of music made with synthesisers is its ability to describe nature in a medium that is completely abstracted from.  As the sounds become more sythesised the creator’s intent is more nakedly revealed and in this instance, the feeling of drifting into night — which let’s face it is pretty fucking abstract — is conjured from the minds of the song’s participants.  Droning waves of synths layer each other like laser coloured veils until more excited flourishes tweet their arrival like thousands of birds of pure light arising for the gloom.

Borden, Ferraro, Godin, Halo & Lopatin – Twilight Pacific

Buy: FRKWYS Vol. 7


Harald Grosskopf: Synthesist (Reissue) Picture the collection of delicate vibrations through which sound is transported across air as a nascent civilisation of golden-skinned homunculi toiling in barren lands, developing in a super-compressed evolutionary process a theory of the mind and language. If the stars are our destination, then we must be theirs, for they populate our sensory system with awe-inspiring structures that will thrive long after a supernova of silence has obliterated the system whence they arrived. Harald Grosskopf is the Deus-ex-Machina behind this beautiful infiltration, the all-knowing watchmaker that set this process in movement. He is their God, I wouldn’t be surprised if he became ours too.

Harald Grosskopf- Synthesist

Buy: Synthesist


Food Pyramid: Food Pyramid III Food Pyramid don’t (need to) mention anything eluding to German 60s/early 70s music in their email to us, but as with the Boredoms, Juan Atkins, Holy Fuck, Death in Vegas, Fuck Buttons, The Time and Space Machine, Deerhunter, Gavin Russom, Oneida, Lindstrom or P.I.L. – reading between the lines gives us great delight.

Food Pyramid – E-Harmony

Buy: Food Pyramid III.


S.C.U.M.: Again into Eyes When teenagers making epic industrial goth by way of southend on sea make a first album on Mute records team up with the combined production talents of Ken and Jolyon Thomas you might expect something interesting. Again into Eyes goes beyond anything you’d expect as a first album, beyond the combined age and wisdom of all involved. If this is their first offering, then personally we cannot wait for more.

S.C.U.M – Whitechapel

Buy : Again into Eyes


Rene Hell: The Terminal Symphony Rene Hell gives us large hadron collider tickets to an abstract universe where Andrei Tarkovski directed Tron, and Terry Riley teamed up with Aphex Twin to make the soundtrack. BLAM.

Rene Hell – Lighthouse Marvel

Buy: The Terminal Symphony.


Moon Gangs: S/T Moon Gangs  plug a whole array of synthetic apparatus into the output devices of our planetary sensory system, thus generating a tape, the latest episode in an invisible collection of factual documentaries through which generation after generation of stargazing weirdoes (Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Terry Riley, Ligeti, Lindström, OPN, etc.) have attempted to reveal a truth that can’t be spoken.

Moon Gangs – Sea

Buy: S/T (sold out soz)


IFEEL Studio: Morgengruss III IFEEL Studio stretches fingers of gold into the core of the galaxy, and the deepest recesses of the human heart to grasp the mysteries of love, and scatter them into the wind. From these seeds grows a mighty tree under whose shadow we rest in a furious summer afternoon, eating cheese and bread like humble and satisfied shepherds, humming a melody of beauty and peace.

IFEEL Studio – Watching Stars Over The Rubicon Beltway

Buy: Morgengruss III


Zombi: Escape Velocity Escape Velocity is a new instantiation of our manifesto: numinous motorik disco for emergent new era cults, party music for the post-singularity hivemind, the blueprint of an interstellar motorway where a suicidal priesthood accelerates its sexy silver machines towards the ultimate event horizon.

Zombi – DE3

Buy: Escape Velocity.


Mist: House Mist’s House is a collection of prophesies about the day-to-day of our poly-mathematic future, and a tribute to the pioneering work of the Kosmische school that first calibrated its main parameters, and anticipated its sentiment.

In it, the fundamental relations in the science of harmony are expressed mechanically by marshalled regiments of numbers marching with irresistible power

Mist – Twin Lanes

Buy: House


Deep Earth: House of Mighty Deep Earth lash out with the pent-up energy of a zillion Zenta laser panthers as they lunge forward, not to snap your neck with mighty fangs of antediluvian vintage, but to carry you dangling from their mouth into exotic lands of strife and illumination like a psychedelic version of He-Man’s Battle Cat, dreamed up in some German progressive commune circa 1976.

Deep Earth – House of Mighty II

Buy: House of Mighty


Thug Entrancer: Case  Mounting a late surge into this list Thug Entrancer’s email popped into our swamp-like inbox linking us to Volume 1 and 2 of Tropics Mind.  Pulling in Carpenter synth workouts, Juke influences and more ambient meanderings they’re nothing if not superbly ambitions explorations of synth driven dance music.

Whereas initially they volumes seem arbitrary, volume 1 soon reveals itself as a finely honed, low key Juke inspired, bubbling gem.  With only Spiritual Growth losing the frantic rhythm of its peers, opting instead for a spot on the Carpenter/Goblin axis of tension/terror.  Volume 2 seems more focused on the aforementioned Carpenter/Goblin/(slowed)-Italo synth driven genre…we still haven’t got a suitable name for.  [We suck at genres]  From which Case comes.

Thug Entrancer – Case

Buy: Tropics Mind


Throbbing Gristle: all of it (re-mastered reissues) All of them.  On vinyl.  Get them now.  Even if they’re not really ‘synth’ albums — in the same way that David Lynch isn’t really a pop star.


Straight Outta The Theatre of Eternal Music

RVNG bless us once again with another instalment of their ever fascinating (and vowel phobic) FRKWYS series.  This time they’ve assembled a synth dream team to revive the spirit of compositional collaboration straight outta The Theatre of Eternal Music.

One of the many strands that compose 20JFG’s love of music made with synthesisers is its ability to describe nature in a medium that is completely abstracted from.  As the sounds become more sythesised the creator’s intent is more nakedly revealed and in this instance, the feeling of drifting into night — which let’s face it is pretty fucking abstract — is conjured from the minds of the song’s participants.  Droning waves of synths layer each other like laser coloured veils until more excited flourishes tweet their arrival like thousands of birds of pure light arising for the gloom.

Borden, Ferraro, Godin, Halo & Lopatin – Twilight Pacific

FRKWYS vol. 7 is out on 17th July on LP and CD in crazy limited editions (the leatherette jackets being our fave) and at the end of the month digital download wise.  More info here.


…and here’s the record that inspired the collaboration above.  Borden’s verbosely titled collection of compositions was put out in 1981 and contains this jam from 1978:

David Borden – Enfield in Winter

Thanks to Matt at RVNG for the tip and (the ever wonderful) Mutant Sounds for posting it 4 years ago.

The Underworld Cup

We are totally psyched by the underworld cup taking place this summer. It is the last one before the mythical date of 2013, or the apocalypse prophesied in the Mayan calendar. This means that whatever happens could have serious repercussions re: the shape of the spiritual thereafter. Wizened bookies with totally for real totems straight off Big Trouble in Little China are taking bets in the back rooms of occult libraries all over the world. Here you have some tips so you don’t end up wasting priceless shards of your soul on the hopeless chances of a lame duck.

The Christians squad, always a favourite as boosted by the massive karma of a zillion believers didn’t do so well in the qualifiers, and there are questions about their manager- he’s got some dubious players in his rooster. Ditto for the Cabala dudes and the boys of Allah, too much focus on earthly settlements and fancy headgear, and not enough on the esoteric gymnastics.

This means that the proper old school contenders might finally have a chance to break organised religion’s stronghold over the cup of cups. The Vampire team are the favourites of young audiences these days- they are licking their sharp fangs in anticipation, and so are the zombies who have dominated popular culture over the last 2 or 3 years. I mean, their decaying rotting teeth, that’s what they have. The Satanists recently received a sponsorship from the house of Goldman and Sachs which we are sure they have invested on powerful spells and hardcore training. The prospect of spending an eternity in the pit if they don’t get to the quarter finals at the very least always does a lot for their morale and esprit de corps.

Pagan witches, wizardly masters of the occult and brainy telepaths have done poorly in the last decades, dragged dawn by skanky peddlers of poor quality crystals, Quidditch mania and second rate evidence of paranormal activity- but they may still give us a surprise- they have some really good songs, and in this game kids, that matters.

We welcome Laurel Halo first, chanteuse of the occult and mistress of the dance of the seven gnostic layers. Metal Confection, including in her King Felix Ep (get free here) is an irresistible torch song for fuzzy episodes of levitation in Welsh hills surrounded by an army of vigilant stones.

Think Planningtorock after 15 years studying forbidden grimoires in the cloister of a convent towering over craggy cliffs, for ever besieged by lightning bolts and eerily anthropomorphic bats. The confidence with which the whole affair is delivered is further proof of her steady hold over mighty forces.

Laurel Halo- Metal Confection

Another rather awesome tune of hers, ‘Embassy’, was forkasted last week.

Troll Town’s sword and sorcery themes will go down a storm with wizardry supporters, sure to engage in all sorts of prestidigitation and stroking of familiars sitting in top of a glowing mushroom of emerald glamour come from nowhere, as his gentle chimes etch a delicate tapestry of liquid threads over the brutal forms of so-called reality, connecting actionable cores of Aristetolian substance to be manipulated with sleight of hand by practitioners of all ages. We call it W-funk, and it’s going to be all the rage this summer .

Troll Town- Sword & Shield

Sword and Shield is included in the Chevalier EP, that you can fetch from here

Trans Am, cosmic joke avatars and no-nonsense rhythm saviours of a post-rock scene traditionally afflicted by a tremendous lack of sense of humour are of course rooting for the telepaths, you need but check out their sci-fi/celestial mechanics themed ‘Thing’ album, forthcoming in the brilliant Thrill Jockey.

I watched Herzog’s ‘Encounters at the End of the World’ the other day, where this scientist spoke of connecting with the spirit world where neutrinos flow jolly and unhindered via a balloon sent in the stratosphere from an Antarctican shed decorated with Hawaiian esoterica. Can you get more out there than that? Yeah, just play Trans Am while you make your call to another dimension. +75% of success, it is endorsed by Stephen Hawking and everything pal.

Trans Am- Interstellar Drift

Trans Am will be playing with 20JFG faves Lazer Crystal at Corsica Studios in London on the 11th of May.