There's this bit in Robocop 2 that always puts the shits up me. Having been rehoused inside a hulking metal chassis after his near-fatal car crash, drug dealer and all-round shit bastard Cain decides to smoosh the head of his girlfriend Angie, after she reminds him of his lost… ah… 'manhood', by toying suggestively with one of his wrench-like pincers. That something once human (an unreserved scrote of a human, but nevertheless) can so suddenly destroy the person dearest to it after having turned machine, well, that just really gives me the willies.

So it probably doesn't take Dr. Juliette Faxx to figure out why most of my favourite electronic music has a strong human element to it, or why I've spent the last twelve months enthusiastically re-evaluating (like a lot of you, I shouldn't wonder) my position on R&B. Shlohmo is L.A.-based producer Henry Laufer, and with new EP Laid Out, he's blown the downbeat, introverted glitch-hop of last year's Vacation wide open.

It's fitting that Tom Krell's hanging-by-a-thread melodrama is all over lead track 'Don't Say No' – both he and Laufer share a penchant for channelling digital sadness into a representation of the natural. Here, Laufer wrangles whispering static to come off like rain on a porch roof, while drum machines fizz and crackle against a soaked-through guitar, wailing somewhere off in the distance. It's not a new idea, this meld of soul and circuitry – one more obvious reference point is Blue Sky Black Death's 'Sleeping Children Are Still Flying', which also drizzled some pleasingly widdly six-string over 808 rollers. Similarly, 'Out Of Hand's Burialist 2-step comes on a lot like a comedown redux of last year's excellent Stumbleine record. But where both Blue Sky and Stumbleine veered into the realms of the overblown, Laufer keeps things taut. Even with Krell's pleading 'wait' weaving in and out of 'Don't Say No's sodden lick, the desperation is always tangible, never in doubt, pinned down by Laufer's pared-back beats.

Even if the pedigree of Laid Out's opening one-two are easily recognisable, it shouldn't be said that Laufer is coasting. Third track 'Later' is something entirely his own, six and one half minutes of tectonic bass shifts, hails of ratchety snare, searing blasts of weaponised melisma that level everything in their path. That Laufer later removes all trace of percussion and turns up the filters to muffle what's left only increases the thing's power, the storm passing on. Even better is 'Put It', which embodies everything that terrifies me about electronic music, dredges up half-formed fears from somewhere just beyond my scared skinny-kid grasp. It's hip-hop's swagger in the darkness of a shadowy club, a place where the subs force out oxygen, where bad things are happening in indistinct corners, where everyone's cancelled eyes look straight through you and ants crawl under your skin as whatever you hoofed half an hour ago starts to wear off. But it's as seductive as power and darkness are, and you will eventually succumb to its slingshot bass and Mega Drive synths. It's just a matter of when.

After 'Put It's chemically-induced claustrophobia, closer 'Without' allows us to surface for air, making return to some of the more organic sounds that Laufer deals in. We get Rhodes, glockenspiel, another moody funk lead. We get beats that sound like they've come from wood or hide, rather than a circuitboard. But Laufer soon folds in those clicks and hisses, some honest-to-Bladerunner synthwork, and turns up the reverb until the purity and glassiness of the chimes starts to sound perverse over the black chasms cut by the sawtoothed keys. That morose-six string comes back, 'Maggot Brain's little brother, moaning out like its bodiless player has nothing in his pocket and no-one to go home to. It's just as stirring as Krell's falsetto skyhooks at the start of the record, this layering of man on machine, and it's a devastating end to a near-perfect EP. Whether Henry Laufer will be able to maintain all the warm soul and variety present on Laid Out for the duration of a long-player remains to be seen. Until then… well, try not to go smooshing any heads.