In the landscape of contemporary music, where many of post-rock's scholars have moved in order to explore the less confining--and often more adventurous--horizons of electronic music, and where the rave generation could learn more than a thing or two about filling those post-party voids by picking up a copy of Revolver, it's the actual songwriters who push the hardest to bridge the gap between rock-style noise and danceable electronica. Acts like Massive Attack, Portishead, and Everything But the Girl were groundbreaking groups in their prime, and newer bands continue to follow their adventurous leads.
Halou is a husband/wife team hailing from San Francisco that has been using the sonic textures of downtempo breakbeats, live instruments, and consistently high production quality to try to illuminate the softer fringes of electronic music. Ryan and Rebecca Coseboom started out playing in traditional guitar-based bands, using influences like My Bloody Valentine, Shelleyan Orphan, and Cocteau Twins as melodic reference points. They went on to release Halou's electronically driven debut album, We Only Love You, on Bedazzled in 1998. With Ryan's solid musicianship and electronic artistry and Rebecca's delicate yet dynamic vocal skills, We Only Love You was well received on a regional level.
On their sophomore effort, Wiser, Halou adds more live instrumentation, like cello, double bass, and drums, adding warmth and depth in a genre that is oftentimes cold and sterile. On the first track, "Milkdrunk," strings and a spare piano creep over an organic breakbeat. Rebecca comes in with a soaring, haunting vocal that is so candy-sweet, it sounds like it could melt away in a whisper. "I'll Carry You" uses beautifully spacious melodic arrangements to hold your attention, rather than a tower of hardware and effects. There are a few edgier, upbeat tracks, but for the most part, Wiser sustains an unrushed downtempo pace, with relaxed, swinging triphop beats, angelic harmonies, and spaced-out electronic palettes. NICOLAE WHITE
Halou w/Orbiter and the Getter Flash, Sat June 29 at the Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave, 441-5611, 9 pm, 21+, $10.