Alarms & Controls formed in Washington, D.C. during the fall of 2010. The band's roots go back further, though, to 2003, when guitarist Chris Hamley (Antimony, Circus Lupus) and drummer Vin Novara (The Crownhate Ruin, 1.6 Band) were performing in an ensemble accompanying Nitrate Hymnal, a post-rock opera created by writer/composer Bob Massey. After the production closed, they decided to try writing some songs together, but the project dissolved after only a few practices. It wasn't until eight years later — when Hamley finally returned to Novara's house to retrieve his amplifier — that they decided to give it another go, eventually recruiting Michael Honch to play bass. In 2012, the trio released its first single, Reanimus Cataract b/w Kirtland's Warbler, as a split between Dischord and Mud Memory Records.
Clovis Points is the band's first full-length — 11 songs recorded in 2012 at the Magpie Cage in Baltimore with J. Robbins. Hamley and Novara have been active members of the D.C. music community since the '90s and on Clovis Points, they make an effort to re-approach the sounds of that moment from a fresh perspective. Where their previous bands were guided by a dark, borderline industrial aesthetic, Alarms & Controls' music favors organic and naturalistic imagery. Following the recording sessions, Honch left the group to pursue a graduate degree, handing bass duties over to Arthur Noll.