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Listed: Morgan Packard + Laurel Halo

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Dusted Features

Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Computer music composer Morgan Packard and the promising Brooklyn musician/remix specialist Laurel Halo.

Listed: Morgan Packard + Laurel Halo

Morgan Packard

About a year ago, Morgan Packard tweeted, “I’ve gone a couple months...in full-on music mode. Now back programming and feeling symbiotic.” Programming is more than a way to pay the bills for this musician. His latest album, Moment Again Elsewhere, was created using Ripple, a program Packard wrote in the SuperCollider environment. A lot of from-scratch electronic music tends towards impenetrability — noisy, abstract, and architectural — but Moment is harmonious and supremely chill. As evidenced by the selections below, Packard is a student of jazz, drum and bass, and modern classical music. Ripple is just the vehicle that allows him to present his influences in a highly personal way.

1. Peter Garland - Walk in Beauty
Gorgeous, spacious and majestic, intimate music written for solo piano. It’s stylistically very focused. The same techniques are examined from all angles with almost Feldman-esque discipline. But unlike Feldman, it’s incontestably beautiful.

2. G-Man - Quo Vadis
This track will always be my own personal definition of minimal techno. Just a few simple sounds, but with such a lovely sheen, such sexy curves, such a delicate bounce, and just enough trashy reverb to keep it spacey. I could listen to it for hours.

3. SND - Atavism
Highly conceptual computer love songs with beats. Like Peter Garland, they’re working with a very limited, very deliberately constructed palette, and seeing what they can do inside the tiny box they’ve built. Unlike Garland, you need to listen to this album LOUD!

4. Ed Rush, Nico, DJ Trace - Torque compilation
Dark, evil drum and bass from the days when it was being invented. This still sounds like some of the most wildly creative, visceral, alien music I’ve ever heard. Sigh... Genres are so much better when they’re being invented.

5. Ahmad Jamal - The Awakening
The repeated rhythmic motifs throughout this jazz trio album achieve some of the same results dub music gets with massive delay. But at the same time, this album sits squarely in the jazz tradition. It manages to be trancey, elegant and nimble all at once.

6. Monolake - Cinemascope
Sharp-focus sci-fi computer dub. Hearing Monolake showed me that there’s no shame in creating music that sounds like it came from a computer.

7. Arthur Blythe - Illusions
Arthur Blythe was a hero of mine when I was learning how to play the saxophone. He has an immediately recognizable sound. A wide, weird, harsh vibrato that’s completely his own. But he’s not an avant-garde extremist. He plays pretty, too. But that weird vibrato always shows up.

8. Craig Colorusso and Matt Welch - Rusted Breath Quiet Hands
Acoustic ambient music on some unlikely instruments: bowed, distorted guitar and alto saxophone. Deeply comforting stuff. Waves of tone that wrap around your nervous system and rock it gently back and forth.

9. Someone Else + Miskate - Macrofun 6
I’ve been having some nostalgia for the 2005-2006 techno scene in New York and Philly. I saw and heard lots of really creative and motivated people making music, all listening to each other and feeding off one another. The stars were aligned.

10. Paul Lansky - Alphabet Book
Lush, harmonically aware computer music. I’m drawn to music by trained composers because of the precision, depth, and detail they’re able to bring to their music. But often music by these folks has too much cleverness and not enough beauty for me. Alphabet Book isn’t at all afraid to be beautiful.

Laurel Halo

Laurel Halo describes her sound as “eight strangers wake up in a giant cube in which every door leads to giant cubes just like the last,” which is kind of hard to imagine. Better, maybe, to extrapolate her dreamy, down-tempo, pop-derived but electronically-enhanced songs from collaborations — with Oneohtrix Point Never, Sebastien Tellier and How To Dress Well — or from the frequent comparisons to Kate Bush. Her King Felix EP was originally available as a free download and got a formal release, with a remix from Oneohtrix Point Never, in late November on Hippos in Tanks. The Paul Lansky pick is a complete coincidence.

1. Kenji Kawai - Ghost in the Shell Original OST
The music is what made Ghost in the Shell for me. I love how this hi-NRG dystopian post-human film was propelled by ambient synth drone, sparse percussion drenched in metallic reverb and Bulgarian/Japanese folk choir. Incredibly beautiful harmonies and this inescapable tension…at different times it’s frightening and raises my pulse, other times I space out to it. I’m inspired by the something-behind-your-shoulder feeling this music perpetually creates.

2. Paul Lansky - More Than Idle Chatter
A really bizarre album comprised of minimal, granular-synthesis-generated rhythmic conversations, underpinned by synth waves and an overall sense of driving melancholy. I really like how Lansky uses everyday repetitions as source material (Homebrew and the sound of suburban home environments, conversations and voices on this) and avoids glorifying them, instead celebrating the plainness of their endurance.

3. Broadcast - Tender Buttons
I’m really inspired by this album’s sense of harmony, perpetually in a state of discovery while maintaining top-secrets at all times. I love the simplicity of the arrangements and the fuzz and noise blended with Trish Keenan’s voice. "You and Me in Time" is one of my all time favorite songs, simple and sad and incredibly poetic (see "By This River" below...). I never considered myself much of a singer but began to attempt it after hearing this record and realizing that a voice needn’t be this bombastic, explosive thing to convey powerful sentiment.

4. Goldie - Timeless
I’m really curious about weird dance/ambient mutations, and Timeless does this so much better than anything else, creating these effortless intersections of fluid ambience and metallic drum and bass. Insane evolving string arrangements and Diane Charlemagne’s otherworldly voice blended with aggressive beats and a persistent sense of space, XYZ flow … the disparity of character between the different elements creates its own fourth dimension, and in that dimension the ambience becomes metallic, the beats become pastoral…

5. Brian Eno - Before and After Science
What always inspired me about this album was its combination of clinical, precise production with the songs’ amoebic developments, feeling as if they are carried by these extramusical ebbs and flows. I love how Eno described this album as “ocean music.” My favorite track is "By This River,” co-written with Cluster, this heartbreaking simple song with just a skeleton of piano carrying the arrangement to its end.

6. Guillaume de Machaut - Rose, Liz, Printemps, Verdure
My favorite medieval piece ever written. A four-voice secular song with asymmetrical flowing melismatic lines, irregular harmonies thanks to pre-fixed tonality, beautiful senses of rising and falling, voices weaving in and out of each other. The emerging voices sound like the growth of new leaves after winter. I would listen to this for hours at a stretch. I even went so far as to write a piece based on its main melodic line, only to hear a sample of it looped on Panda Bear’s "I’m Not" six months later.

7. Ocrilim - Annwn
This album levitates. Raga-like solo metal guitar layered endlessly upon itself creating waves of harmonics, ghost melodies and harmonies that appear out of noise swells, forests of distortion. I was inspired by Mick Barr’s solemn, choral approach and the powerful effect of layering similar timbres and feedback on top of one another.

8. Roland Kirk - The Inflated Tear
The title track has such a melancholy, psychotic theme, building out of psychedelic percussion tinklings the saxophone choir’s desperate, distorted cries give way to a cerebral, introspective solo. I’m really inspired by music like this, that can instantly create such a particular yet inexplicable mood and hook you, that makes everything feel slowburn and cinematic.

9. Polygon Window - Surfing on Sine Waves
This is one of my favorite Richard D. James albums. The balance of ambience and aggression on this record is killer and I’m inspired by his effortless sense of lift and modal sense of melody/harmony, an almost classical vibe to his angularity. There’s something more removed and private about this record, as well, not as overtly masculine as some of his other releases.

10. Carl Craig - More Songs About Food and Revolutionary Art
One of the first Detroit techno albums I ever listened to. In a way, it’s much dreamier and synthier than a lot of other Detroit techno, and the beats are a bit more hybrid with IDM and breakbeat elements. It’s an incredibly hypnotic and tripped-out album, and on the whole has a floating, positive feeling to it. My favorite tracks are “At Les” and “Dominas.” I’m super inspired by the sound of this, the combination of driving rhythms with pure synth elevation, of spaced out repetition with purpose and soul.

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