Monday, 8 March 2010

Laika -Sounds Of The Satellites

Another all-time favourite of mine from 1997. Mainly the work of Margaret Fiedler and Guy Fixsen, with Rob Ellis on drums. Fiedler and Fixsen were a seriously creative pair, and forged a unique and beautiful sound on this album especially, although all the Laika albums are pretty good.
Margaret fiedler has a breathy, gentle voice, and this is backed by a dense and rhythmical weave of layered percussion, samples and synths driven along by strong, rolling bass lines and excellent, offbeat drumming. Despite sounding quite alien, sometimes, and the strong electronica element, this music feels very organic: the synths are voice-like, and the massed percussion elements sound like insects chirruping in crepuscluar hedgerows. The sound is best showcased on 'Breather', an excellent song that goes into blissed out dub overdrive for the last two minutes. A relentlessly hypnotic rhythm is embellished with gentle percussion that sounds like it could be from any and no country in the world at once, but the really spaced out textures come from the synths - moogy and gorgeous sounds rise and fall, and weave around a tapestry of samples and percussion with perfect counter melodies. This is a track I would be quite happy to listen to if it went on for another 20 minutes. The opener 'Prairie Dog' is based around what is ostensibly a more trip-hop orientated beat, but again is raised way above the mainly pedestrian output of that genre by the brilliant amalgamation of sounds: electric piano, vibes, flute and an otherworldly, cello-like synth. 'Out Of Sight And Snowblind' has a brilliant, driving bass and drum foundation, with the same briliantly arranged synths in patterned filigree, and judicious use of echo on Guy Fixsen's voice again creating a hypnotic, rolling groove. 'Poor Gal' is a rhythmic beast in 7/8, driven by a pumping bass and punctuated with some aggressive guitar stabs to great effect.
It seems that Laika are unlikely to release any more records, which would be a great shame, as I think this is quite unique, beautiful, and very spaced out (and they were good live!). Guy Fixsen does not seem to have been too prolific as engineer/producer in the interim. However, I thought Margaret Fiedler had quit music entirely but I've just checked Wiki and she toured with Wire as guitarist on tour in 2008, so maybe it will happen.


1 comment:

iZen said...

This is an all-time favorite at the ZenArcade as well. Fun to see it posted with such an excellent description.

I thought it was time to say thanks for all the good posts and the many downloads I've grabbed here.

The Back Door LP was new to me and I've been thoroughly enjoying it.