"Wiser" (Album, 2001) !DSO Recommended!
Where to start? Rarely does an album come your way that not only knocks you for six but then stands up to excessive repeat plays, finding itself in that elite list of albums that you'd recomend to all you meet without reservation. Halou's astonishing Wiser is just such an album. A rarity of such convicing beauty and quality that everything else around is reduced to banality in comparison. I cannot think of another album that makes so much of subtlety as Wiser does.
Halou is a tripartite project by American husband and wife team Ryan (instruments) and Rebecca Coseboom (vocals), featuring one Count whose technical contribution in the engineering and mixing departments (to say nothing of his gifted drumming) is as central to the success of Wiser as any other. The unhurried songwriting is served by an exquisite blending of electronics and live instrumentation that sees cello, acoustic double bass, guitars and limpid percussion that is simultaneously delicate and captivating.
Defying easy pigeon holeing, Wiser is faintly trip hoppy at times and feels influenced by an indie sensibility, yet it remains firmly electronic throughout. (Interestingly, the 'genre' label in i-Tunes classifies this as 'industrial' and having been released on Nettwerk, a well-established home of industrial over the years, this does somehow manage to sit in the outer limits of the category.) But even trying to convey the impact of this in writing misses out so much of what makes Wiser perfect that, honestly, no words can do this justice.
Rebecca's graceful vocal presence is beguiling and forceful at the same time. This remarkable balancing act mirroring the organic/dramatic sound composition. A release of rare quality, there isn't a single weak moment here. Sweeping, so emotional, and disarmingly moving. A genuine and thrilling original that represents the pinnicle of composition and performance. One of the finest albums I have heard in many a year. 9/10
Rob Dyer (June 2006)
Official Halou website: http://www.halou.com