General Ludd's third EP is their most substantial release to date, a four-tracker of drum-centric techno hybrids for Ten Thousand Yen. Producers Rich McMaster and Tom Marshallsay (AKA Dam Mantle) have eschewed the effusive house of their debut, on Mister Saturday Night, and instead continue the bleaker train of thought started on its follow-up, Hit It / Kick Out. With curiosity and invention, Rare Earth Metal uses its added runtime to further explore the many corners of percussive dance music. Hard-edged as it all is, there's a strong undercurrent of levity: "Molcorp Mountain Pass" sneaks distant clucks into its flurry of hand drums, and the stuttered groove in "Wigu Hill" makes liberal use of an error sound from classic Mac computers.
Save for whirlwind drum-machine solo "Prisoners Dilemma," Rare Earth Metal is built with innumerable percussion samples, which are chopped and sequenced into precisely interlocking movements. General Ludd's patterns are often busy, but they never feel cluttered. "Molcorp Mountain Pass," for instance, has no trouble finding room for soggy synth swells and other rhythmic textures within the complexities of its booming, multi-layered beat. The jumpy momentum of "Wigu Hill" reaches a fever pitch early on, so the tune's actual climax hits when the duo strips everything down to its hulking skeleton. Such sneaky twists and remarkably calibrated arrangements are part of the EP's allure, but its staying power comes from just how fun General Ludd can make severe drum tracks sound. McMaster and Marshallsay keep their drums loose and dynamic, like each intricate rhythm was performed collectively in a big room, and they also have a flair for hallucinogenic details.