Posted by: Jimmy For Reals on May 4, 2014
When Sd Laika’s debut EP came out in 2012 I hadn’t really heard much if any of the new wave of Grime, and as far as introductions go, this one was about as absorbing and terrifying as they come – sort of like a brief snapshot inside the mind of a cybernetic space bandit, marauding across vast interstellar gulfs in search of planets to destroy. Unknown Vectors had all the hallmarks of the bleakest, ruffest UK pirate radio stations, but it was like the signal was constantly being interfered with by some invasive, paranoia inducing alien transmission. You’d be forgiven for thinking that sounds like the recipe for a god-awful mess, yet it’s remarkably cohesive, like a lucid Sci-fi nightmare based in the backstreets of London.
That’s Harikiri continues this fine vein of technoid eccentricity, and moments of intangibility aside it’s much more direct, quite danceable too. Granted some of the album is the sort of gritty experimentalism you might expect from Babe Rainbow or FIS, but at no point is it so oblique as to be unlistenable. A prime example is Peaked, which weaves a bewildering web of spin cycle bass, garbled computer voices and wistful keys, whilst Gutter vibrations takes it in an even more demented direction, sounding like an assortment of retro-futuristic telecoms devices rolling down the side of a hill, gradually snowballing into a fuzzy, boulder sized ball of noise by the time it reaches sea level.
Not that the faint hearted among you ought to be put off by these esoteric experiments in sound design, the borderline dancefloor business on That’s Harikiri is markedly more prominent, as demonstrated by tracks like the unhinged-yet-relatively-coherent Meshes which sounds in places like Hudson Mohawke’s Thunder Bay being remade by a swarm of robot bees, and It’s Ritual, an exercise in Regis-esque industrial techno, albeit one that seems to be infected with an insectoid computer virus. For my money though SD Laika’s imitable brand of madness works best when he finds a balance between the two extremes. Great God Pan rolls in like a neurofunk anthem cast adrift in a fractured dimension before dropping into choppy, unorthodox beats and huge haunting synths, whereas I Don’t is a full blown nuclear meltdown panic alarm underscored with militaristic percussion and a looping sample of the word Black. It brings in that extra-dread factor, you know, just in case That’s Harikiri wasn’t terrifying enough already.
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