Lakker – ‘Coal Bath’ EP (Candela Rising)

The industrial brand of gloomy, experimental techno that Irish duo Lakker purvey is a much more restrained, subtle affair than the sound palette they employ in making their tunes would suggest.

The EP is awash with distortion, lo-fi atmospheric swoops, the sounds of decaying machines and heavily reverberated drum and percussion kits. It drives at a relentless pace, chugging along with a reckless air of abandon; unbounded by genre restriction or expectation. The mechanised juggernaut this could have been, in the hands of people whose sole purpose is unremitting dancefloor carnage, is tempered by moments of calm amongst the storm and flurry of its metallic instrumentation and its shards of weighty, pummelling kicks.

Skittery, garage-leaning drum rhythms, pitched wooden blocks and rims combine to great effect with long, drawn out figures, and slivers of disembodied vocals on opening number, the title track “Coal Bath”. These elements pool together to reminisce of ‘Hangable Autobulb’ AFX era techno and the more grime-y memes of early epoch Vex’d experimentations. Rather than being derivative however, Lakker juxtapose these persuasions, both creatively and deftly, in the process creating a piece of post-modern, post-IDM, slice of ugly and experimental electronica.

Birmingham’s DJ Skirt takes to the buttons to remix of ‘Coal Bath’, where she simplifies the arrangement of the Lakker original with robotic, timed delays to the drum tracks, extended ‘verses’, more focused percussion, and a slight bashment tinge to the kick. She takes the tune more firmly into traditional, industrial techno territory, albeit without the steady pulse of 4×4.

The grotesque stomp, broken sonar bleeps and melodic elements take charge on ‘rsspstp’. Choral pads temper the outright brutality of the drums in the process alleviating some of the filth first foresaw in the opening few seconds. As well as partially neutralising the corrosive, acidic nature of the drums, these harmonic respites allow the introduction of a series of broken tech style sound effects as well as allowing all manner of twisted, ghostly wails to appear, a function that takes the tune further into the realms of sonic experimentation. Its ceaseless nature gets under your skin, and revels in tension rather than release, a refreshing step away from club norms.

The EP finishes with the distant, submerged, repetitive kick pattern of “Brood”, underpinning large scale noise swooshes, tapped metal percussion and distorted things reveling in pitch and timbre manipulation. It is dark and atmospheric, yet on the flip, ethereal, like trying to pick something tangible out of a mess of ever changing patterns. All in all the EP is a very good effort, carefully treading the middle ground between fully on, aggy UK music and a more restrained brand of dub infused, industrial techno.

The ‘Coal Bath’ EP is out now.

Al Kennedy

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