You know how Taylor Swift might play Joni Mitchell in some upcoming film? (Before you throw a fit, remember that worse things could happen.) Those Joni Mitchell filmmakers should really stop by a Laurel Halo performance. In an Unsound Festival concert at Warsaw in Brooklyn, NY, on April 20, Halo seemed to channel a Mitchell-esque hippie aura as she conducted the sounds of her abstract music.
Halo’s blissed-out way of swaying as she DJs—eyes maybe closed, all that long, long blonde hair swaying—makes every bit of sense in the context of her wandering, melodic songs. If not a Joni Mitchell film imposter, Halo would make a great third sister in Prince Rama. Although her lyrics aren’t mystic chants, her voice is loud and carries over some “druggy, not spacey” tracks. Holding the microphone in both hands, Halo sends her voice from clear and strong in “Years” to layered in reverb for “MK Ultra,” both tracks from her upcoming album, Quarantine.
Halo’s hippie-dippy (druggy? spacey?) vibe began to transition with her closing number, a huge-kick-huge-bass big-room orchestral-sounding tune, but as soon as Ital took control of the decks the atmosphere made a complete turnaround. Well, almost—if the opposite of Halo’s meandering tracks is a set full of hedonistic, slobbering bangers, then Ital only provided a shift from the melodic wooziness of Halo’s pheromones toward a more punk-rock energy.
Ital DJs like a kid in a hardcore garage band would play the guitar or drums: by attacking his instrument. His movements are jerky, violent, manic, angular. He whips his head and makes faces as he reaches for knobs with both hands, teasing unlistenable feedback whines and random effects into a low-end wall of sound.
The next night, Unsound transformed the Indiescreen movie theater in Brooklyn into a nightclub for the highly anticipated Bass Mutations showcase. Although the place was cramped to bursting levels during Sepalcure’s set, and although at least one audience member ran outside the venue after getting puked on (come on, people), the crowd thinned out and generally pulled it together for a set by 2562. Indiescreen may be a movie theater rather than a concert venue, but its massive sound system packed enough kick and punch to burp a baby during bass and rhythm-heavy tunes like Helix’s “Drum Track.”