New label, new album: Five years after the release of »Raw Silk Uncut Wood«, Laurel Halo has released »Atlas«, the first catalogue number from her imprint Awe. While she was still knocking on wood in 2018, the American is now exploring sublime, non-contact paths. This time she spins a delicate thread of classical instrumentation, alienation and repetition across ten tracks. The elegiac character of Julia Holter’s music is found again on »Atlas«, which drifts into the melancholic realm of the orchestral on »Sick Eros«, thanks to the unmediated string melody that emerges from the harmonic tangle. The cleverly placed moments of surprise come again and again: »Belleville«, which like most of the other pieces is based on Halo’s piano sketches, suddenly swells for a moment to almost irritating, pathetic grandeur, which Coby Sey carries skywards with a brief vocal entrance. But Halo has not set out to permanently expose the sublime, to render it profane. The title track, for example, uses electro-acoustic means to compress piano and strings to such an extent that it sounds like a cross between Wolfgang Voigt’s GAS albums and William Basinski’s loop ambient. »Reading The Air« also loses itself in a vacuum where beauty and menace are not contradictory. The fact that this ambitious balancing act works so well, especially for Laurel Halo, comes as no surprise.