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Lakker: Arc EP

Ian McDonnell and Dara Smith aka Lakker are an Irish duo who came to my attention courtesy of their excellent previous EP (for Killekill), which featured in ‘Spider Silk’ one of the darkest warehouse basslines I’ve heard since Air Frog’s ‘Bon Voyage’. They return here with a debut appearance for James Ruskin’s consistently strong Blueprint label. Whilst notable for the aforementioned thumper, the previous EP also showcased their penchant for shuffling, slightly off-kilter beats and naive electronica-inspired musical phrases, a sound which they revisit in fine style here.

Opener ‘BKRO‘ is propelled by a heavy, almost death metal chug, and cleverly programmed percussion that I can only describe as ‘clops’. They underpin an increasingly dark and present synth although this is countered by the introduction of a light and simple three note motif. It’s a fairly basic structure, but it fills a huge sonic space and doesn’t outstay its welcome, despite clocking in at over eight minutes.

‘ED’ increases the tempo slightly, a healthy amount of filter tweaks on the main riff ensure things are kept fresh alongside barely audible chords. It’s the most straightforward track on the EP but a curious swing on the drums gives it a lurching quality, you feel as though you’re crossing a wilderness astride a robotic steed.

Arc‘ is a slower number and probably the strongest track, heralded by a single repeated kick layered in grit before giving way to a plaintive melody that progresses nicely whilst the background heaves, swells and generally sounds forboding. It’s a track that somewhat summarises the sound of Lakker, combining claustrophobic and yet spacious elements in quite an unsettling way – it’s not obvious how these tracks are supposed to make you feel, but this in turn is what makes them somewhat addictive listens – you’re sucked in because you want to know what is round the corner, but in reality it’s a corner that you never get more than a glimpse of, as the emotional balance is meticulously maintained throughout.

A possible exception might be the closing track – the background sounds of ‘Evening Lemon’ trade in the glue factory floor vibe for the processed sounds of children at play and birdsong. In spite of a frenetic tempo, this is the most musical track of the four, with reedy synths washed in reverb that can’t help but bring to mind Boards Of Canada. It leaves things on a positive note that suggests, whilst it’s relatively early days, Lakker potentially have a lot more stylistic tricks in their sonic arsenal with which they can spread their wings. As for Blueprint, this is a logical release, adding further dimensions to a sound which was previously a little constrained and opening up a route to a potentially exciting artist album.