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Struggle & Emerge (R&S Records)

latest full-length veers even further from the dancefloor than their
last, the utterly fantastic and impossible-to-recommend-enough Tundra
(incidentally, also one of our favorites of that year). Right out of the
gate, Struggle & Emerge presents itself as an industrialized
concept album. And that it is; RE:VIVE Initiative commissioned this music as an
interpretation of the relationship between the Dutch and the North Sea in all of its scale, tumult, volume, and awe. The
gaseous blasts of the opener “Reclamation” feel like triumphant
trumpets of industry, the glory of man taming the sea with flood
protection. This nod to heavy industry — literally — feels like
an amped up variation on some of the themes of OMD’s Dazzle Ships. Of course, nothing on that particular album sounds as remotely
caustic as the sputtering grind of “Maeslantering Gating,” but it
shares much in its focus on industry as a by-product of or causer of

It recalls some of the industrial bite of recent works by
Emptyset, but the physicality of its sounds feel distinctly Lakker,
particularly that harsh, distorted ping pong ball of a snare. Some of
their more out-there moments include the syncopated pink noise of
“Broken Clouds,” lent an extra layer of ominousness via an
archival recording of a broadcast after the Nazis’ inundization of
Dutch polder Wieringermeer. “Ever Rising” denotes the inherent
risk in living in such close proximity to a barely-tamed force of
nature, complete with droning alarms and steady, reverberated

They pile on into a dizzy chorus that abruptly stops to
provide only a short breath of air before the urgent mechanisms of
“Fierljeppen,” denoting the Dutch national sport of pole vaulting
over a body of water. The track bristles with activity, a fidgety
precedent to “5,000 People.” I’d say that some of these tracks do
quite well to accomplish the agenda of telling the story of Dutch
history, at least in bits and pieces; I had to look it up to discover
that 5,000 people died as a result of the Black Death hitting the
Dutch city of Haarlem in 1381, about half its population at the time.
One of many things I love about this body of work is that it both
excels as a concept album and as a standalone, pure listening
experience. In other words, its history and source material need not
be known or understood fully to appreciate Lakker’s music, but more
likely than not, I think listeners will be as compelled as I was to
look up the context and meaning behind the music. Exceptionally good,
another masterpiece from Lakker — highly recommended.

Buy it: Bandcamp | Boomkat | Bleep | iTunes