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Sd Laika emerged from the cold, dark abyss that is the underground EDM world back in 2012 with the now cult Unknown Vectors EP. With it the Milwaukee-based producer put an innovative American twist on the very British Grime genre, leaving a distinct dent on the independent electronic music world. But then, just like that, he was gone, seemingly never to be seen again.
However, fortunately for fans of gritty, pulverising grime beats and breaks the folks over at Tri-Angle records persuaded Laika to release some more material. That's Harakiri is the fruit of their labours, a collection of previously unreleased tracks recorded back in 2011 and 2012, with each track seeing Laika take snippets from across the vast electronic spectrum and craft it into something distinctively his own.
Despite being of American origin, it's English blood that runs through That's Harakiri's veins, sharing the same raw, pent-up aggression of the East-London grime sound of the early noughties. But this is an album that still sounds thoroughly modern, maybe even futuristic - no easy feat in a genre that leaves no stragglers behind. 'As I Don't' has the same sparseness that worked so well on Logos' debut last year, and gives the record a cold, robotic soul. Bursts of white noise and earthquake-inducing bass make up the body of 'You Were Wrong', while the bass wobbles on 'Don't Know' reminisce the Jungle scene of the '90s.
Other than musical influences, its the aggression of the record that really hits home. Each track threatens to tear itself apart from the sheer power and intensity of the beats, but somehow it manages to stay teetering on the edge of self-destruction and never falls over. Not only is it angry, but it's also schizophrenic. There is no coherent structure to any of the tracks on the album, but rather than leaving the listener in the lurch it makes you hang on with enthusiastic anticipation, willing Laika to pulverise your grey cells just one more time.
This is not a record for the faint-hearted. Hell, it should come with a health warning, but if you give it a chance you'll be rewarded with the most innovative electronic albums in a long time.
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