Laces are a duo originating from Bradford, consisting of long time musical conspirators Ben Walker and Patrick Wanzala-Ryan. This is their debut release, an EP of five songs, tentatively titled Beachcombers. While they can list influences that would delight any music obsessive in Can, Steve Reich, Miles Davis, Aphex Twin and Fela Kuti, it’s incredibly clear that a certain Mr. Yorke and a certain Radio-Headed Band are the real parents of the ‘Laces sound’, no coincidence that ‘Keep Your Eyes Down’ declares ‘You told us this was how to disappear‘. Which is to say that they merge Indie-informed songs with a post-Kid A predisposition to experiment electronically. Each level of guitar strumming will be counteracted by Eraser-esque drum machine, and for every percussion part, and ambient echo will whirl in the background.
There are only two true ‘songs’ on the EP, the tracks ‘Screens’ and ‘Keep Your Eyes Down’, the surrounding tracks serve as Intro, Interlude and Outro respectively. Which is not to say that these tracks are worthless, far from it, like Alt-J and The XX they actually give the EP a sense of framing, which is a trick most small records ignore. Listening to Beachcombers feels suitably like a journey to a desert island, ‘Hard Boiled Wonderland’ is a gentle arrival upon a calm beach, while ‘Screens’ then gives us a pleasant solid song as we start looking around. ‘Lift’ is a discovery of a demented circus (with echoes of Pale Seas) subverting the calm of the opener and shifting us up a gear to bring us into ‘Keep Your Eyes Down’, a mocking fable that, along with clattering percussion, lends the menace arms and legs. All that’s left is for closer ‘Ghost Woken’, an Aphex-indebted ambient track to drift our corpse back over the beach and out to sea.
Overall the EP is an enjoyable, if transient listen. The duo’s flexibility with all sorts of sounds gives the tracks a lot of variety, and they manage to come up with lots of ear worms like lead track ‘Screens” cry of ‘bleed yourself blind’. The record is more a sign of promise in the group than a burst on to the scene, more tracks like the clearly dominant ‘Screens’ would provide that service, but as a first release this is a worthy endeavor. Furthermore, the band are currently offering this on a free download from their bandcamp site, so there aren’t many excuses not to pick this up and have a listen. Fans who can’t wait enough for the Atoms for Peace album will find this might just help them bide their time till its release.