The output of London duo Dense & Pika (a.k.a. Chris Spero and Alex Jones of Hypercolour) has thus far been brutally simplistic in its approach and execution—essentially, it's dark warehouse techno driven by in-the-red drum sounds with a heavy emphasis on sub-frequencies. The pair's third release for Scuba's Hotflush label, the four-track Colt EP, finds Dense & Pika gradually stretching the running times of their tracks and adding subtle new flavors to their productions.
This evolution is most obvious on the title track, which contrasts a straightforward, overdriven 4/4 kick pattern with the entrance of warm, emotive piano chords. The addition of a weightless string line that hovers above a smattering of bit-crushed percussion accents only deepens the sonic juxtaposition. The middle two tracks of Colt are less idiosyncratic, yet they're still functional. "Black Deep" manages to keep a submerged beat in center focus, adding pitched vocals and sweaty chords along the way, while "Vomee" employs monochrome organ chords and twinkly keys draped in delay that keep the track's low end from sluggishly derailing. The EP's final tune, "Airless (Live)," is a clear outlier that nonetheless manages to pleasantly surprise, as the duo balances nimble live percussion, hollow woodwinds, and a range of modular synth effects over the track's galloping, repetitive backbone. The gambit pays off, as the track's foray into more "real" instrumentation never loses focus, and more importantly, shows that Dense & Pika's predilection for brute force can excel in a number of frameworks.