HaLO – the Isthmus

Tom Laskin The advent of cheap digital recording and even cheaper distribution over the internet has compacted the music world in ways that just weren't anticipated in the 1980's. The high synth-pop era influences much of the music on Halo, a compilation of various electronically oriented Madison acts who've clustered around the Inferno nightclub. Today any of these artists could be played around the world with the click of a mouse, and many deserve to be.

The disc's first half owes a lot to one key 80's hitmaker, Depeche Mode, which made an enormous impression on US audeinces, especially on the West Coast. Of this work, Echo Virus' “Stranded” is the most individualistic, with wispy, melancholic synths and a more deliberate rhythm track communicating the near paralytic sense of anomie that infuses mych industrial music. Halo's second half pays larger rewards, with Signal12 burrowing deep into the darkness on their arid “Signal 12” [sic], Null Device upping the tempo and the funk beneath the moderne love thang “Electrified”, and both Ctrl-Shift and industro-goth greats Stromkern referencing old-school heroes ike Cabaret Voltaire and Ministry on particularly prime cuts.

Anne Rice fans also won't want to miss the Dark Clan's drama-soaked electro-rhumba “Lestat in Cuba.” It's a toothsome bit of goth camp.