Comprised of members Koova, Yes Effect and Pip Williams, UK trio London Modular Alliance have spent the last two years amassing a reputation for their impressive live shows, the trio building tracks more or less on the fly around their hulking modular synthesiser rigs. At the same time they’ve also been pretty prolific on the release front, with this latest 12” EP ‘Wolves’ arriving just a few months on from their preceding ‘Home Grown’ EP for Hypercolour.
If there’s an unifying quality to the five new tracks collected here, it’s a focus on sheeny, highly sculpted electro sounds, the fusion of breakbeat-driven rhythms and streamlined synthscapes frequently conjuring up ghosts of the early noughties nu-skool breaks scene. ‘Brockie Det’ builds itself around a snapping robotic snare groove and bleeping electronics, but while the tightly coiled breaks provide plenty of visceral pop and lock action, the ominous synth swells and eerie minor key pads that swirl in the background manage to take things off in a far more ambient and contemplative direction, only for the mechanised snares to suddenly jump back into sharp focus as the track rolls to its airy conclusion.
If there’s a sense of opulent progginess to the aforementioned track, ‘Militant’ gets more gritty, building dark electro drum around fat distorted bass, ticking drum machines and jittering Kraftwerkian robotic effects, the glittering arpeggios that ripple through the mix providing the only flashes of colour as the monotonous mechanical grooves flex. Elsewhere, ‘Advance & Proceed’ sees dark angular synths arcing against vaguely garage-tinged off-step breakbeats, the lithe hi-hats adding a sense of airiness to the cold synthetic surfaces, before ‘Wolves’ offers up this EP’s most IDM-kissed moment, sending 808 rhythms rolling against a frigid backdrop of trailing ambient pads and bright melodic synth sequences, the ricocheting elastic percussion that bounces in the foreground immediately triggering associations with ‘Analogue Bubblebath’-era Aphex Twin. Sleek and impressive stuff.