The last time we heard from the British electronic quartet HÆLOS wasn’t all that long ago. Their sophomore album, Any Random Kindness, came out just a little over a year ago, in May of 2019. Intricate and moody, it represented a refinement and extension of the aesthetic they established on their debut, 2016’s Full Circle. Historically, HÆLOS seemed to have a pretty labor-intensive writing process, with all of them collectively working towards the songs and taking their time with it. One would’ve imagined it’d be some time before they returned with more music.
As it turns out, HÆLOS are back to prove us wrong: Today, they’ve released a new song called “Unknown Melody.” Perhaps it’s a marker of the group re-orienting their interests a bit after the first two albums. “We found ourselves reminiscing about some mid-’00s electro releases and feeling a nostalgia for those early trips,” Dom Goldsmith said of the track. “Writing ‘Unknown Melody’ back in January, it just felt cathartic for us to remember some of the good times when everything felt so unstable. How little we knew. We’re listening and learning.” (In addition to writing “Unknown Melody” with his HÆLOS bandmates, Goldsmith produced the track, and it’s coming out on the band’s own Æ imprint, which will also be releasing work from other projects.)
“Unknown Melody” finds HÆLOS subtly expanding their style. So much of the music that populated Full Circle and Any Random Kindness could envelop you with a sort of lush, apocalyptic sheen. But “Unknown Melody” exists on the brighter end of the HÆLOS spectrum. It’s an ever-so-slightly warmer, groovier track, Lotti Benardout’s vocals cooing over bubbling synths. HÆLOS’ music has always been rooted in electronic traditions, of course, but this finds them moving away from the mistiness of their trip-hop-indebted roots towards something altogether dancier and catchier, yet still just a bit elusive. Check it out below.