HÆLOS are the furthest thing from the characterless contrived creatives that come to mind when you think about an experimental electronic trio hailing from Hackney. Neither the venue’s intimacy nor relative emptiness on a bank holiday Monday discouraged them.
“It almost feels like our studio that we’re inviting you into, you know?” exclaimed keyboardist and vocalist Dom Goldsmith as he was setting up the stage for what was to be an incredibly inspiring and immersive set.
It began, unsurprisingly, with ‘Into/Spectrum’; a subtle play on the word introspection and a comment on its cyclic nature, if only for a brief moment. The song features a sample of the incredible Alan Watts, who popularised various schools of Eastern Philosophical thought in the West. It is actually a recording of a speech in which he talks about what he calls the “Spectrum of Love”.
Watts’ postulation on ‘Intro/Spectrum’, that “from time to time there arise among human beings people who seem to exude love as naturally as the sun gives out heat,” were not so much poetic or prophetic as they were taunting. Each song morphed from a tone of naïve idealism or feebly defiant hope, into one ridden with anxiety, anger and eventual acceptance of the dissonance between the construction of love, that exists within each of their own heads, and how it compares to ideals of love that exist in their surroundings.
“The creative chemistry the band members have with one another was palpable on stage”
They used lighting to do this quite effectively; the room was darkened, save for the pink/red lighting throughout ‘Intro/Spectrum’ that eventually faded into purple, blue, and violet in the other songs: colours often associated with sadness, anger and betrayal.
It got me thinking about how HÆLOS formed. Goldsmith was a producer who had worked with Lotti Benardout and Arthur Delaney separately for years, before deciding that a collaborative effort would be more worthwhile, and rightly so. The creative chemistry the band members have with one another was palpable on stage.
You could almost hear the pain of the creative and personal obstacles they had endured together, as well as apart, to find a sound that is cinematic, cathartic, and perhaps quite conceptually ambitious. Indeed, every key, chord and beat was elaborate, but not self indulgently so.
“It is recognised even less in regards to the way that it empowers listeners to imagine different cultures, continents and worlds from their own”
Electronic music, even of an experimental breed, is commodified and mass produced at an alarming rate, to the point where production is now recognised for it’s value in the monetary sense and less for its potential power to be fundamentally transformative.
It is recognised even less in regards to the way that it empowers listeners to imagine different cultures, continents and worlds from their own: to create their own realities, and ultimately to explore what it means to be alive, to learn and to love, in a way that a wide range of people can access and relate to but can also be challenged by.
In my mind at least HÆLOS embody and epitomise the latter. Watching them perform ‘Full Circle’ live was like walking along the frontier where my sense of internal ‘reality’ (within my mind) and sense of immediate ‘reality’ (my immediate surroundings), conflated with my sense of wider ‘reality’ (the wider world outside of the campus bubble of the University of Nottingham, or even this country).
Had Watts have been there he might have expressed the following sentiment of HÆLOS as he did in the spectrum of love: “These people, usually of enormous creative power, are the envy of us all.”
Image: “walter sedriks” via Flickr
Co-Editor of the Music Section at University of Nottingham’s IMPACT Magazine.