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Lakker

Tundra

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    8
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Some techno producers approach album-making with the intent to release a statement that is more in line with "proper" music. They seek songwriting vocalists, and maybe a real live musician or two, pare the tracks down to typical song length, devise a thin concept, and tend to do so with subpar results. For their first R&S album, Dublin's Ian McDonnell and Dara Smith didn't really change their approach, apart from opting to emphasize an assortment of field recordings. They collected sounds from Japanese tunnels and German church bells, as well as from Inuit throat singers and an Irish women's choir. Regardless of how much their recordings shaped the album, there's no doubting that Tundra tends to be more intense than the duo's 2011-2014 releases. (Earlier Lakker album Rudio, from 2007, is hollow in comparison.) "Mountain Divide," the A-side of a 12" released the previous October, begins with buzzing drones and an irregular beat, then quickly escalates into searing industrial noise and battering drums. The track accurately foreshadowed the album's drift. "Three Songs" bops along and even resembles a drastic remix of a peppy synth pop song -- albeit one with a snaking, Jon Hassell-like line tucked into it -- but the album otherwise offers varying combinations of grim, punishing, and turbulent content. Some of the sounds coaxed by McDonnell and Smith are borderline disturbing. In "Halite," for example, a thudding dubwise rhythm is accented with what sounds like a baby scream doctored to sound like a siren. Samples of experimental vocalist Eileen Carpio add a dash of elegance to "Milch," but the track is somehow more unsettling than the others that contain sharply stabbing drums. Odds are strong that no like-titled album is as cold as this one.

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