Coming Full Circle
Nov 13, 2015
Issue #54 - August/September 2015 - CHVRCHES
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and that adage can be applied to fresh British trio HÆLOS. The threesome, while still in their 20s, have a lengthy and varied collective resume: Lotti Benardout featured on tracks from Redlight, Gorgon City's Foamo, and Kidnap Kid; Arthur Delaney headed up Born Blonde; and Dom Goldsmith was a central figure in the spacey beats outfit Get People.
The three came together organically when Benardout provided backing vocals for, and Delaney moved down the street from, Goldsmith. Less than a year ago HÆLOS put their hazy track "Dust" online without fanfare, created a Facebook page and got a couple hundred friends to like it. Overnight the blogosphere picked up on the track and interest escalated faster than HÆLOS could keep up. With no photos of themselves, the three photocopied their faces at Delaney's home. He's handy with Photoshop and turned the grainy images into something involuntarily mysterious, which just added to the unintentional mystique.
The band released the four-song Earth Not Above EP this summer on Matador and moved into the spotlight. Cinematic and atmospheric, the EP touches on the '90s trip-hop the trio states as a large influence, Portishead and Massive Attack in particular. The album is wholly created on analog equipment, and producer Goldsmith asserts that the moody, lo-fi electronics are the result of 10 years of trial and error. This subtractive approach to HÆLOS' production balances against the distinct vocal styles of each member of the band, which, when meshed together, are sometimes indiscernible, creating mysterious, androgynous harmonies.
"At first you start with a load of software synthesizers with presets, and it's exciting because it's this whole wealth of sound—but then you realize that a lot of it is irrelevant to you personally," Goldsmith says from HÆLOS' studio in East London. "Unless you actually sculpt a sound from the very beginning, it's not yours, there's no connection. The fact that everything is made from the ground up and built and tweaked and refined is important to our sound."
HÆLOS have been working on their debut album, due next year, in between making the European festival rounds. The three expand to a six-piece live, with the addition of two drummers and a guitar player who also triggers samples. Goldsmith is the mad scientist, handling the synth work as well as vocals, while Benardout and Delaney's contrasting yet complementary energies front the experience: the former icy hot, smooth, and stripped back; the latter sloppy-chic, loose, and cool.
"We're connected, we're in tune, but we're not singing a duet to each other like Sonny and Cher," says Bernadout. "We try to mirror emotion and movements without having to look at each other. We're giving our own performance, interpreting the music and lyrics in our own way, but we still have that connection. All three of us have been the front person of our previous projects so it's fun and different and interesting to be doing it together. We feel more confident and draw out the best in each other."
[Note: This article first appeared in Under the Radar's August/September/October 2015 Issue, which is still on newsstands now. This is its debut online.]
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