Halls: Ark

    The very nature of Halls’ music is paradoxical. The young electronic musician from South London seems to attempt to construct songs out of silence, yet somehow his attempts make complete sense. His new album, “Ark,” continues to explore Halls’ ambition to create music without really making any noise.

    From the very first track, the minimally titled “I”, the spartan quality of Halls’ music is clear. A lone organ plays single notes, letting them hang for several seconds before fading into the surrounding fog of silence. The next track, “White Chalk,” features Halls singing sweetly over a deliberate piano line before percussion and vocals envelop the song. It’s worth noting that this is one of the only times that the music on “Ark” consists of more than one layer. And even when there’s more noise, Halls’ choice of a slow tempo keeps the sound from becoming cluttered. It’s kind of like what an IKEA kitchen would sound like if it were music: Everything fits in its proper place, making the empty space feel vast and expansive.

    But as texturally remarkable as Halls’ sound often is, it’s just as unoriginal as that IKEA kitchen. Throughout “Ark,” there seems to be a large debt to another, more famous British electronic musician known for his subtle, quiet music: James Blake. Yet despite the generally imitative qualities of his newest album, Halls is still masterful at making some of the barest music you’ve ever heard also sound like some of the most intimate. (6/10)

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