On the strength of a brief, grime-indebted EP called Unknown Vectors, Sd Laika (real name Peter Runge) signed to Brooklyn-based imprint Tri Angle, a label known for releasing noisy, sepulchral explorations from the likes of Forest Swords and the Haxan Cloak. The resulting album, That’s Harakiri, travels much of the same ground as Unknown Vectors, as it was culled from unreleased material Runge recorded around the same time (a vocal sample maliciously enunciating the world “black” that appeared on the EP is recycled literally on “I Don’t.”) But it also sounds more polished and varied than his last effort.
Runge’s music intensifies grime’s chopped-up, futuristic beats, exaggerating them into sudden thuds and hisses, often punctuated by abrupt full stops. Unlike anything you’re likely to hear on the dancefloor, tracks like “Don’t Know” constantly fluctuate between time signatures, taunting anyone who hopes to lock into a comfortable groove. “You Were Wrong” and the album opener, “Peace,” also incorporate bizarre-sounding harmonic progressions that travel in unexpected directions, like scuffed-up fragments of Satie pieces. Still, the word “grime” continues to evoke Sd Laika’s sound pretty well — it’s dirty and onerous music, the mix sounding just wet enough to stick to the walls of a darkened room.
Runge, who hails from Milwaukee, doesn’t assert his existence much through social media, and the element of mystery here is part of the appeal, as is the album’s concentrated brevity. But both factors point to the ephemeral nature of this music. After a brief 32 minutes, the album suddenly jolts to a stop, like clamping your mouth shut on a vocal-shredding scream. It’s cathartic stuff, especially on the galloping “Meshes,” but all its power exists in the moment.