As one of the first luminaries of the post-dubstep scene, Laurel Halo has embodied the larger collapse of genre divisions in electronic music over the last decade. Blending traces of first-wave dubstep, techno, house, ambient and even pop, Halo has done it all, which made the news that she was to score a 2018 documentary by Dutch filmmaking collective Metahaven. The film, an experimental collage/essay about crumbling identity in globalist technocracy, is fitting subject matter for Halo’s own blurred lines of stylistic identity.

Intriguingly enough, Halo’s score for a film all about the isolating impact of digital technology is among her most analog work, often deferring to classical instruments over synthetic ones. On the three “Rome Theme” pieces, Halo and collaborators create varying forms of chamber music. On the first, cellist Oliver Coates (who also worked on Mica Levi’s Under the Skin score) crafts an elegiac solo; Halo adds trilling, Philip Glass-esque organ fills around Coates and violinist Galya Bisengalieva on the second; and the final version is a darting, nervous piano étude that skitters and stops like a cockroach. “Marbles” is a more delicate piano solo, gently plinking in a manner evocative of the titular objects lightly falling on keys.

Toward the end of the album, Halo pivots into full neoclassical. “Cave Walk” is all moaning strings that climb ever higher, becoming more brittle and keening as the track crests. Halo even includes a brief rendition of “Stabat Mater,” a work of 18th-century sacred music by Giovanni Pergolesi originally for strings and voice that she adapts for piano. The inclusion of new and canonical works of classical orchestration search for the human in an impersonal world, and even amid Halo’s established command of lilting ambient music there are pieces here that show the breadth of her skills with negative space and minimalist emotion.

The electronically tinged material, though, is a fuller showcase of Halo’s talents. Opener “Hyphae” is a muted yet busy collage of sounds, scraping strings and loose piano loops against humid synth pulses that subtly grind to generate tension. Elements rise to the surface, letting the soft piano suddenly fill the speakers as the synths become ever glitchier in what could pass for a blend of modern minimalism and classic Warp aesthetics. “Zeljava” foregrounds a dissonant cello howl as other strings shriek around it, but it’s the artificial arrangement of these two in opposition to each other, filled in with the occasional clang of industrial noise, that gives the track its true unease. “Breath” fades up on organ tones that get brighter and brighter even as Halo’s use of negative space maintains the dread initially conjured by its blurting clusters.

Splitting 32 minutes across 12 tracks, Possessed keeps its songs short, often ending just as a composition feels like it is about to morph into something different. Still, the brief mood pieces contained within do an able job of communicating the allure and dread of over-reliance on digital connection. The album is never mere doom and gloom, though even its warmest tracks have subliminal unease, and as in Glass’s attempts to score the decay of human sociability in the Qatsi films, Halo’s soundtrack is as hopeful as it is cautionary, and as tied to the ancient as it is the futuristic.

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