Producer Halina Rice creates immersive, audiovisual environments where music, art and technology intersect. Her second long-player, ‘Elision’, takes you on a deep journey into abstract soundscapes

Sitting at home in Tufnell Park, north London, audiovisual artist Halina Rice taps a biro against her lips and looks pensively at the screen. Rice, who has recently released her ‘Elision’ album on the eclectic Injazero label, is contemplating the specific, almost indefinable quality she is principally motivated by.

“If you go to an art gallery or an installation, or you’re in the presence of an amazing sunrise or sunset for a fragment of time, you’re lifted out of your concerns and the daily grind,” she says. “You can be somewhere else. You could say that means running away, but it’s not. It’s like a better appreciation of things. And rather than try and solve problems straight on, you take yourself away and experience a wider perspective.”

The interactions and effects she describes are somewhere between immersive – a word she frequently uses about her music – and escapist.

“It’s so hard to find a word with the right connotations,” she admits, thoughtfully. “Escapism suggests that you’re running away from something, while spirituality suggests something that’s too religious. It’s like you want to use the word ‘transcendence’ – but transcendence sounds a bit grand.”

We find ourselves googling German words that might adequately describe the feeling she wants to bring to her music, and eventually concoct “Kurzzeitschön”, which roughly translates as “short-term beautiful”.

For Rice, a graduate of London’s Point Blank Music School, this is more than mere idle wordplay. This is a serious, important, definitional concept that motivates her work in synthesising sound and video, whether onstage, in a gallery or in imagined VR worlds.

And it directly influenced her exacting, detailed approach to making the textures and beats comprising ‘Elision’.

Halina Rice’s journey to ‘Elision’ began with a series of four singles she self-released in 2020 and 2021. ‘Spheres’, ‘Terrain’, ‘Breaks’ and ‘Sunken Suns’ were short, urgent slabs of adventurous, untried sonics, symbiotically blended with qualities more commonly associated with electronic dance music. ‘Spheres’ switches back and forth between passages of shimmering ambience, savagely edited euphoric vocals and a suppressed rhythm that feels like it’s borrowed from a rave mixtape, while ‘Terrain’ occupies a deep, trancey space.

“It was ‘Terrain’ that really took off for me,” says Rice. “I suddenly had 23,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and Danny Rampling asking if he could include the track in a playlist. At that point, I was hitting a stride of writing something a bit like IDM, and it was even recognised by some as progressive house or Ibizan trance.

“And I was thinking, ‘Well, I’ve never actually been to Ibiza’, but it was lovely. My friends think it’s funny because I never go clubbing. I’m literally the person least likely to make a dance record.”

‘Terrain’ was followed by ‘Breaks’, structured with layers of razor-sharp beats, face-melting guitar riffs and serene clouds of elegiac synths. ‘Sunken Suns’ was unpredictable, restless and yet also stately.

“It was deemed ‘chaos-step’,” laughs Rice with a slightly confused expression. “It’s like a weird sort of dubstep that’s all over the place. I’m quite comfortable writing across different genres, but I’ve always questioned, ‘Should I be worried about that?’. And I don’t think so. I don’t think I can care too much. You just see where things go.”

All four singles, insistent and arresting on first listen, are full of intricate details in the liminal spaces hidden between the seams. They make for a very different proposition to the Rice who appeared in 2017, fresh from Point Blank, with the celebrated vocal album ‘Redux’. The contrast, and the vast chasm existing between ‘Redux’ and ‘Spheres’, suggest that anyone who thought they had her sound pinned down was mistaken.

“I’d always only meant to be a non-vocal artist,” she explains. “I’m glad I did ‘Redux’ because it meant I got to explore that avenue, but it wasn’t the right one for me.”

Aside from those four formative standalone tracks, it was her tentative foray into performing live that directly led to ‘Elision’.

“I started playing live shows at the end of 2021,” she says. “I wanted to take my stuff out live as I think that’s where it really works. I played in March this year at Iklectik near Waterloo, which I absolutely love. They platform incredible people every day of the week.”

Crucially, Siné Buyuka, founder of Injazero Records, was at the Iklectik gig.

“I didn’t know she was there,” admits Rice. “She reached out to me very sweetly afterwards. I’d only played live maybe three times and nobody knew me, so it was lovely for her to approach me.

“I was impressed with her catalogue and ethos, and the fact that she’s got a real kind of openness. Injazero is an extremely ambient label, but I was a bit more beat-driven. She was like, ‘Yeah, I do want to take the label a bit more in that direction’. I appreciate the fact she liked the mixed bag of things I do. She trusts you to do whatever you like. She’s a really inspirational lady.”

Buyuka suggested Injazero release her next single. Instead, Rice gave them a whole album.

We use elisions every day. In linguistic terms, elision refers to the deliberate removal of letters to allow two words to be efficiently compressed. More generally, it means an absence or omission – the things that perhaps should be there but aren’t.

As a framing device for Rice’s album, it’s hard to see this as an exercise in reductionism. Like the four singles preceding it, nine of the 10 tracks here are densely packed with beat-driven electronics – the exception being the haunting, ethereal and vaguely unsettling title cut.

“Part of the reason it’s called ‘Elision’ is because it’s all about aligning two things that maybe don’t belong together,” explains Rice.

“The process forms a sort of dissonance, I suppose. On the title track, the synths in the background are actually doing straightforward, quite classical chords. But there are vocal and synth sounds that feel partially aligned. There’s a tool I use called Morph, where you literally put two samples in. It’s not so simple that they’re just bound together, but more that they take features from each other. With that specific sound, sometimes it’s more of a voice, and sometimes it’s more the voice taking on characteristics from the synthesiser.

“When I put it on the track with a little bit of synth underneath, it felt beautiful but still a bit messed up. It’s not too sickly. There’s noise and stuff that’s not quite right in there. Sometimes the vocals don’t land in the right place and it’s a bit harsh. But I was pleased it balanced itself out. It’s probably the sweetest thing I could write.”

But picking titles is a tricky business, right?

“Sometimes I go through thesauruses looking for synonyms,” says Rice. “You get lots of words and then you see something that catches your eye. ‘Elision’ resonated on lots of different levels, and it felt perfect for that track with that morphing sound. And when it came to naming the album, I was actually trying to look for a different title. But I kept coming back to that word and thinking, ‘This is the best word ever for what I’m trying to do’.”

‘Elision’ is a collection, of sorts. Three of its tracks were commissioned for the WITCIH (Women In Technology Creative Industries Hub) digital festival, and half of the pieces were ones she’d “tried and tested” in her live sets, entirely in keeping with her eclectic sound methodology.

In contrast to the ambient leanings of the title track, ‘Helix’ – the first single from ‘Elision’ – is a thunderous and hypnotic affair, while the unusual time signature of ‘Momentum’ feels upbeat yet strangely uncertain. ‘Hunter’, one of the shortest tracks on the album, consists solely of percussion sounds, at first seeming almost randomised until you realise each one has been carefully and deliberately placed.

“I guess they represent me at my most experimental,” says Rice. “I’m very inspired by people who do things that are off-grid like this, who are totally wild.”

Again, it’s those intentional micro-details – intricate, carefully crafted interstitial events – which mean ‘Elision’ can’t be wholly considered electronic dance music. The opening track, ‘Hey’, is a case in point. It begins with levels of rippling texture, through which a vocal sample reveals itself.

“That track was me trying out granulators and LFOs,” explains Rice. “I came up with this thing that sounded a little bit like an organic stringed instrument, even though it wasn’t a string instrument when it went into the granulator. It had this mystical, pulsing rise and fall, which I liked. It felt organic, but it was also unplayable, so the two things kind of came together.”

The distinctive vocal sound on ‘Hey’ was also the product of manipulation.

“I’m happy to experiment with samples of female or male vocals, and I use my own because, you know, they’re there,” says Rice. “I pass them through a tool called PaulStretch – it has an algorithm which makes any vocal source sound beautiful because it’s stretching it maybe 10 or 20 times. You start to hear the dissonance within the vocals. I absolutely love that.”

‘Hey’ had a life before ‘Elision’. Some of its opening sounds were recycled from a piece of music that Rice originally wrote for ‘New Worlds’, a virtual reality project by Zaha Hadid Architects and L-Acoustics Creations, which was installed in the DDP Cultural Centre in Seoul earlier this year.

“Their exhibition was about where things are going in terms of how we live and what the future will look like,” explains Rice. “They created a totally VR design environment where people sit on a bench and put on headphones and headsets. I created an immersive binaural mix to accompany it. So rather than just being on a bench, you’re suddenly in a place with floating spheres. I think there’s an otherworldliness about the stuff I do, so it worked well for that project.”

Her soundscape work, alongside her interest in live performance, signifies Rice’s intention not to be pigeonholed.

“I want to be modular,” she says. “I can be audio-only, or I can be audio and visual. Or audio, visual and a whole immersive performance. The music is the most important thing, and the other stuff is like the window dressing surrounding it – it’s there to enhance the whole experience when you’re performing.”

Rice is part of a frontier movement of like-minded artists who twist, transform and manipulate the hallmarks of electronic dance music and visual accompaniments into exciting new shapes. Progressive, experimental and composer-like in style, the results wilfully defy easy categorisation, yet are sympathetic to expected norms.

Rice and I were both at the same Iklectik gig in May featuring a work by Simon Fisher Turner. It was accompanied by a slide show of London photographs by Sebastian Sharples, many of which were taken during lockdown when the streets were deserted and entire office buildings stood silent, empty and pointless.

“I was struck by an unexpectedly beautiful quality in those photos,” reflects Rice. “I couldn’t nail down precisely what it was. It was so simple, yet so perfect. People are always trying to analyse what is ‘beautiful’. They use the golden ratio. There must be something very pleasing about perspective, but it was the colour gradings of those images I liked. They were all quite pale. It was the soul of what the photographer was seeing.

“It felt a bit like my music. I create a space that encourages the audience to exist somewhere a little bit unusual.”

‘Elision’ is out on Injazero

You May Also Like
Read More


Three Danes, one Finn, two bands, one called Liima, one called Efterklang, a UK tour, a couple of pints and chat about what’s what. Confused? It’s easily done
Read More

Creep Show: Mind The Gap

With their second album, ‘Yawning Abyss’, electronic supergroup Creep Show have truly surpassed themselves. From the power of vocoders to AI and “fucking things up”, John Grant, Stephen Mallinder, Benge and Phil Winter wax lyrical
Read More

Who was El Lissitzky?

Eagle-eyed Kraftwerk fans scouring album sleeves in the 1970s would’ve come across a few clues to help their knowledge of these mysterious Germans. ‘The Man-Machine’ featured the following credit: ‘Artwork (inspired by El Lissitzky) – Karl Klefisch’
Read More

Kraftwerk : Auf Der Autobahn Mit Kraftwerk

As Kraftwerk visit the Uk for their most extensive tour since 1981, we trace the evolution of the Kraftwerk live experience – from dope smoke-filled hippy happenings IN the early 1970s to the sleek 3D art installations of the 21st century