For Fans Of: Radiohead, Massive Attack, Moby
London electronic collective HÆLOS stumbled into their current state without realising just how impactful their debut single would become. Original members Lotti Benardout, Arthur Delaney and Dom Goldsmith had their own solo projects at the forefront of their minds, but chose to collaborate for one track, now named ‘Dust’. Discovering that the trio filled the empty spaces in each other’s budding projects, the collab never stopped.
The group take pride in composing their cinematic sounds themselves, telling Under The Radar “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 realise that a lot of it is irrelevant to you personally. 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.”
‘Dust’ quietly slipped into the online ether in October 2014 but was quickly swept up by blogs and tastemakers (including BBC Radio 1’s Zane Lowe), who were intrigued by the faceless group and their atmospheric soundscapes. The Line of Best Fit was another prominent supporter, comparing the song to “a message in a bottle tied to a rocket and launched in to space, waiting for eager ears to find it.”
HÆLOS followed up this unexpected hype with ‘Pray’ a year later. Inspired by Moby’s uplifting electronic ballads, they not only reference their 90s influences, but naturally push the genre to its next stage with their self-professed “dark euphoria”.
Before long, Matador Records (Car Seat Headrest, Kim Gordon, Queens of the Stone Age) saw the budding experimental talent and signed them before they’d even played their first live show. Within a few months, their debut EP Earth Not Above was overpowering Soundcloud with its contemporary yet nostalgic tracks that range from trip-hop to dubstep. The Revue stated “The four-track compilation personifies the trio’s name and album title – otherwordly and existential”, complimenting their versatility and ability add a new twist to established genres.
Riding the high of Earth Not Above, their debut full-length was imminent. Full Circle arrived in March 2016 and was met with strong responses. Named after the cycles of life, which also links in with their name, this release took on a more analytical approach to life, even sampling a lecture by philosopher Alan Watts. The ambient opening track ‘Intro/Spectrum’ features a segment of his talk ‘The Spectrum of Love’, which speaks of how life is a journey to be experience rather than just used to reach a meaningful end point.
Following extensive touring, festival appearances and support slots for the likes of Interpol, they officially brought touring member Daniel Vildósola into the pack to make the now powerful foursome. Vildósola has come to be an integral part of HÆLOS, and their second album Any Random Kindness just proves it. Released this May, it touches on themes ranging from the permanent destruction caused by climate change to the ephemeral emotions projected onto social media – the latter element explicitly referenced by the album’s prismatic cover art. “You look at a bonsai tree, it’s been manipulated to become this living thing,” Benardout explains. “That’s what we’re all doing on social media – presenting ourselves in these fabricated ways. You don’t see the dying leaves or the wires holding it together.”
Any Random Kindness is also more musically progressive due to their touring schedule. Starting out as a production band, playing live forced HÆLOS to be more experimental onstage to keep each show interesting, which has expanded their repotoire and sound.
Speaking of their transition from the studio to the stage, Delaney told Vice “I think modern audiences are fine with people pressing play, and twisting some filters and stuff. We all come from a background of playing live music, and I think that energy you get between a band trying to nail it…you can’t recreate that by just going out and playing to a track. We really wanted to bring that to the forefront and give people that live experience.”
Benardout chimed in “When we go onstage we try to give our songs a life aside from the record. We want to make it a different experience than listening to it on headphones. Now that we have been touring quite a lot, we are getting more confident at exploring ways to translate our music into a great live act. The boys are incredibly talented musicians anyways. That makes it easier to play a show involving more instruments than the DJ set.”Haelos / introducing