A curious thing about the human voice is that it’s a shortcut to the eerie fascination that drives techno music and science fiction alike. Lakker’s Tundra, the Dublin duo's second album in a decade, delves into the uncanny valley of treated vocals, ground up and looped in with all kinds of noise. Lakker weave voices in the style of sacred music into contexts where they wouldn't normally be heard. The resulting effect is spit-shined patches of perfect sonority that make the noise sound brighter, like there’s something alive inside it.
Lakker is the project of Ian McDonnell and Dara Smith, two producers who started out as overheated noise-blast collagists on their first album, 2007's Ruido, and then spent a few years producing straight-ahead techno 12”s for labels like Blueprint and their current home, R&S.
Tundra falls somewhere outside of both of those approaches. It has the same restless spirit as Ruido—but while that LP was a frantic pastiche of frenetically stitched-together ideas, Tundra’s oddball details are all in the service of larger structures, like glyphs carved into the surface of stone blocks. Its range is too expansive and colorful to fit under the umbrella of club music. Like fellow noise artists Fuck Buttons, whose dizzying fractal scaling on Slow Focus echoes through Tundra’s biggest and boldest tracks, Smith and McDonnell have a loose compositional template here; they tease ideas into play with one another, elaborating but never quite releasing the tension between them. "Mountain Divide", the dizzying third track (and first introduction of hostile noise) buries a muffled choral fragment in chaotic whining and sawing—an "O Fortuna" for sparking machinery—and stays naggingly dissonant.