HALOSAR- ‘New Forge’

Halosar is the collaborative electronic project of multidisciplinary artists and childhood friends James Jano and Cullen Miller. And maybe this, their debut album, could only have been made by two people. Because as much as ‘New Forge’ is reminiscent of solo sonic pioneers like Tim Hecker or Daniel Lopatin, there’s also an audible push and pull to proceedings. ‘Pretzel Summit’ is a slick, burbling digital cascade that reminds me of the Akira soundtrack, and makes perfect sense, but ‘Mood Range’ is like Daft Punk chopped and screwed with radio static, with every element fighting for space. It’s like Jano and Miller wrote separate songs and crunched them together. When this all works, it’s terrific- ‘Exit Wounds’ goes from dreamy to nightmarish with unexpected dexterity, and the extended ‘Server Room Blues’ is totally absorbing. But when it doesn’t, it can feel tonally awkward or inconsistent- warm, chipper moments are patched right next to icy cool ones, and mallwave skits glitch against cinematic synths. The sounds make sense the more time you spend with them, but, for better and sometimes worse, ‘New Forge’ never settles.

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