Release Date: Apr 29, 2014
Record label: Tri Angle
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance, Experimental Electronic, Garage Rap/Grime
Head here to submit your own review of this album. 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.
There's something about That's Harakiri, the debut album from SD Laika (real name Peter Runge), that feels like the logical progression of where grime has been headed for a while now. When the genre first emerged, full of aggressive percussion and sawtooth waves, it felt like a sound so leftfield, so out of nowhere, that it must have been from the future itself. In more recent years, grime has been constantly reappraised and reinvented.
It seems like there should be a little more perplexing mystery to Sd Laika than there actually is: Peter Runge is basically a guy from Milwaukee with a low-key social media presence and enough of a distinct game plan to wind up on the same label as Forest Swords and Evian Christ. But Runge's music possesses an unnerving sense of man-machine fusion that sends viscera burbling out your speakers—the kind of glitched-out muck that leaves a permanent stain on everything in hearable radius and makes one thankful that you can't actually smell music. It's gruesomely tactile, dank stuff, the kind of keyboard gut-ripping that primarily resembles grime in the "Crime scene clean-up" sense of the word.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin native Peter Runge debuted as Sd Laika in 2012 with Unknown Vectors, an EP released on the Visionist's Lost Codes label. Alternately (and sometimes simultaneously) bleak and comical, the tracks sounded like grime manglings with a carefree maverick approach akin to that of Actress. And then there was...nothing -- not until the Tri Angle label got in touch and had Runge cough up an album's worth of material that dates from the same period of creativity that birthed the EP.
Milwaukee-based Peter Runge - aka Sd Laika - shouldered his way onto the scene back in 2011 how most producers do: with an EP. Unknown Vectors siphoned off plenty of critical attention, and was an astute debut record for Visionist’s grime-focused Lost Codes label, but Runge didn’t follow through, and the momentum faded away all too swiftly. Grime has since seen a fresh batch of producers, including the likes of Logos, Rabit (a fellow American) and Wen.
While it seems like most modern producers are interested solely in texture (Hudson Mohawke, Rustie), mood (Crystal Castles, Evian Christ) or shifting tones (AraabMUZIK, Clams Casino), Peter Runge (a. k. a.
Plenty of producers make just one record before disappearing, perhaps abandoning dreams of a career in music when they realise that their chances of becoming the next Aphex Twin are vanishingly small. Only occasionally is this a bad thing. Sd Laika debuted on Visionist’s Lost Codes label back in 2012, with the stark Unknown Vectors EP; apparently this might have been the last we heard from him, had Tri Angle’s Robin Carolan not got in touch.
To what exactly does the title of SD Laika's debut album refer to? It's an act of violence that's missing a subject. It sounds like a response, but then it's difficult to think of a context, aside from the most literal, in which it might be spoken. Rather more likely is that it's intended as a comment on the work itself, but then to what does it equate the ritual from which it takes its name: the act of listening or the process of its creation? Given the painfully prolonged time taken for these tracks to find release, the latter certainly seems a possibility.
Reinvention has long been a dog-eared page in the rock band playbook, and “trade guitars for synthesizers” might be the most underlined statement on the page. For every band that manages that transition with grace and purpose, there are many more that seem driven by desperation, having exhausted the usual options. “Shriek,” the immersive new album by Wye Oak, somehow places the group in both categories.