let's talk about...laika

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everyone's favourite unsung hero, it seems. i only have "good looking blues", but it's super. i would be interested to know what people think of the peculiar track "bad times". my favourite has to be "moccasin", though.


weasel diesel (K1l14n), Thursday, 13 February 2003 10:36 (eighteen years ago) link

Good Looking Blues the weakest but, er, also the most consistent, if that makes sense. I love them, especially live, but I suspect any lingering chance of them having a slightly wider appeal have been sunk by the artwork and title for their new compilation. Bad timing, more like.

Funny, I spent 1997 proclaiming the genius of Laika and B&S to all and sundry; only in the latter case did I find anyone who really agreed with me. But, it was *loads* of people and now they won't leave me alone.

Michael Jones (MichaelJ), Thursday, 13 February 2003 11:52 (eighteen years ago) link

MF from Laika too nice/sound/intellectual to be a standard pop star. One of my favourite people (and a good friend from uni as it happens).

suzy (suzy), Thursday, 13 February 2003 11:57 (eighteen years ago) link

Only heard 'Silver Apples of the Moon' which I bought after stumbling across them at Glastonbury and really enjoying them. Don't know if the album is representative, but I like the sound they make.

James Ball (James Ball), Thursday, 13 February 2003 12:21 (eighteen years ago) link

Saw them last week (or the week before?) at the ICA and they are VASTLY underrated.

kate, Thursday, 13 February 2003 13:16 (eighteen years ago) link

MF from Laika too nice/sound/intellectual to be a standard pop star.

Well, a nice/sound/intellectual pop star wouldn't go amiss.

On a purely frivolous list of People I'd Consider Leaving My Wife For (But Not Really) - my wife has a similar list: People's Bathwater I'd Gladly Drink A Tub Of - I think she's #3.

Christ, it's nearly 12 years since that first Moonshake EP.

Michael Jones (MichaelJ), Thursday, 13 February 2003 13:17 (eighteen years ago) link

I love that. Here's the funny part: MF and I came to London at the exact same time. We didn't hook up for the whole six months each of us were there but were on the same plane back to NYC, so we got seats together, got blootered, and I was the first person she got to play that to, as she'd raced for the plane straight from the studio.

suzy (suzy), Thursday, 13 February 2003 14:14 (eighteen years ago) link

Laika roolz and all that good stuff. There should be more of them, but the one that's here is darn great.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Thursday, 13 February 2003 14:17 (eighteen years ago) link

Aaahh, get all the albums (start with Sounds of the Satellites), they're all great, and get the Antenna EP while you're at it and Moonshake's Big Good Angel EP too ("Two Trains" and "Girly Loop" will split your head right open. Essential. ESSENTIAL, I tell you!).

I got into 70s Miles Davis years after listening to Laika, and now I know where a fair amount of inspiration came from (compare "Bedbugs" with, say, "Rated X" or "Moja"). I think the band might've had a small hope that "Bad Times" would become an underground novelty hit.

Oooh, does anyone have the First EP by Moonshake? I've been trying to track that down for years...CD-R trade, anyone? Pretty please?

Ernest P. (ernestp), Thursday, 13 February 2003 15:45 (eighteen years ago) link

First couple of albums are brilliant. Wholly underrated. Never liked Moonshake as much, but SILVER APPLES and ..SATTELITES are both otherworldly. Ugh...I just realized what a shit pun that was. Pardon.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Thursday, 13 February 2003 17:21 (eighteen years ago) link

i've unfortunately only got the three proper albums, but i do need to get hold of singles and EPs and such. and Whore. not just for them, but they are a primary motivator.

MF is brilliant; i actually went backwards. liked Laika first (despite having heard Eva Luna quite some time before having heard Sounds of the Satellites); my favourite record store (which has since closed) had one of the first-edition copies that came with the really lovely hand-designed sleeve. and of course, it took ages for that first album to come out in the US. unfortunately at the time, i was in high school and scraping together lunch money to go buy music, so i didn't get the import, despite having them play it almost every time i was in the store.

i have also managed to always miss getting to see them play live when they've been in town, and they've been through (i think) 3 different times. dammit.

"Badtimes," i actually like quite a lot. MF's delivery is brilliant, and the cool breeziness of the track is lovely.

while i do wish they'd get more recognition, outside of people here and other musicians and such, i doubt they ever will.

janni (janni), Thursday, 13 February 2003 19:22 (eighteen years ago) link

i was in amoeba the other day and planning to pick up Sounds of the Satellites in the used bin for like 7$ but then i left it alone and decided i'd come back to it later if i didn't find anything else. later, there was this guy causing ruckus with the employees because they didn't stock a Morr music compilation and i decided to keep an eye on him for fun to see what came out it. eventually one employee directed him to the Laika used bin and i left the store empty handed. pointless story, but still.

Honda (Honda), Thursday, 13 February 2003 19:29 (eighteen years ago) link

After I heard 'Silver Apples of the Moon' I found myself direting scores of Portishead geeks in Laika's direction. Still an all time favorite

Hayden (Hayden), Thursday, 13 February 2003 22:11 (eighteen years ago) link

i guess i can sorta see that, but i never really cared for Portishead much, whereas i love Laika. they're easily one of my favourite bands.

hearing some live Portishead changed my mind a bit about them, though---i don't think Beth Gibbons' voice does so well in the studio, is my problem. it could just be me, however.

janni (janni), Thursday, 13 February 2003 22:14 (eighteen years ago) link

The new 2 CD comp is definitely worth getting for the lost b-sides, but find the 'Uneasy' single if you can; 'Uneasy', 'Lie Low', and 'A Single Word'. 'A Single Word' isn't on the comp, but it's gorgeous. The three songs together are perfect... nifty case, too. The Badtimes single is less vital, but still worthwhile.

I picked up SAOTM on a whim, a long time ago, and have always enjoyed it. I still hold the first 6 songs of SOTS as the most gorgeously paced set of songs ever. Laika are horribly underrated.

derrick (derrick), Friday, 14 February 2003 08:07 (eighteen years ago) link

they're a great missed band (hey, maybe not...as usual there are lots of ILM weirdos who rate them)
first tune i heard was coming down glass.

gaz (gaz), Friday, 14 February 2003 10:05 (eighteen years ago) link

Hey, I've got the first Moonshake EP on CD - and it's got an uncredited extra version of "Coward" on it too! Send me a mail, Ernest!

Oh, and I love Laika (and Moonshake) too.

Rob M (Rob M), Friday, 14 February 2003 10:20 (eighteen years ago) link

first saw them in Prague when touring the SOTS lp (supported btw by Ecstasy of St Theresa, anyone dig?).
I bought it the next day but was initially kinda disappointed by how different the songs sounded on record. Live the Joy Division-ish guitar sound was much more noticeable (I think you can still hear traces off it on Martinis on the Moon). Anyway, eventually I learnt to love that album. Never felt compelled to check out their other records tho..

Fabrice (Fabfunk), Friday, 14 February 2003 10:39 (eighteen years ago) link

> Hey, I've got the first Moonshake EP on CD

is that the one with the song about gravity on it? i have a copy of that and loved it but didn't go any further despite the countless times mike put tracks on mixtapes for me. maybe i oughta search out the compilation...

(am now expecting mike to post and tell me that actually it was only 11 tracks that he recorded for me, the tapes they were on and the dates he posted them... 8)


koogs (koogs), Friday, 14 February 2003 13:26 (eighteen years ago) link

(am now expecting mike to post and tell me that actually it was only 11 tracks that he recorded for me, the tapes they were on and the dates he posted them... 8)

Andy, that's called projection.

Anyway, all that info died with the old PC...

Very intrigued to hear of this extra uncredited track from on the CD version of First. I believe the 12" version of 'Only Sleeping' sports some fancy remix of the lead track (rather that the vanilla edit on the CD), which I'd like to hear. I'd also like to hear whatever it was Paul Schutze did (or didn't do) to 'Spooky Rhodes' - left off the 'Almost Sleeping' EP cos it was hard to hear where he'd spent Too Pure's money (or something).

Can't justify the double-CD comp when I think I have 2/3rds of the extras disc.

Michael Jones (MichaelJ), Friday, 14 February 2003 14:33 (eighteen years ago) link

First heard 'em when I saw them opening for Fiona Apple at the amazing Palace Theatre in Louisville. They blew the drunken waif off the stage...they even had some of the "yeah, fer sher, like totally WOW" teeny-boppers dancing in the aisles, which I find to be a quite remarkable feat (as they sat down through most of Fiona's set yelling "PLAY CRIMINAL!").

nickalicious (nickalicious), Friday, 14 February 2003 15:03 (eighteen years ago) link

The 2-cd set is worth the investment for the liner notes and photos alone. Plus, it's priced as if it were only 1 cd, so you aren't being gouged or anything.

derrick (derrick), Friday, 14 February 2003 17:43 (eighteen years ago) link

i hadn't really heard much about the 2 CD set before; will have to go and look into it.

despite being cruelly and utterly broke. *grins*

janni (janni), Friday, 14 February 2003 17:50 (eighteen years ago) link

I've never heard Laika, but I'm generally pissed off at bands that take the name of something historic and use it without adding anything. Bauhaus and Cabaret Voltaire are the ones that really annoy me, but Laika too.

Dave Fischer, Saturday, 15 February 2003 08:19 (eighteen years ago) link

I like how Laika got their name actually.... when Margaret and the other one left Moonshake, they announced their intentions to form a new band in the MM and asked for people to write in and contribute names, of which they would pick their favourite. Not many people would be so brave (or stupid), and I wonder who was the person who wrote in and said "How about Laika?".

Rob M (Rob M), Saturday, 15 February 2003 12:36 (eighteen years ago) link

eight months pass...
Anyone heard the new one yet?

mookieproof (mookieproof), Sunday, 9 November 2003 06:46 (seventeen years ago) link

It's good, but not great. Much more stripped down sound, more or a regression than a progression, but still likeable. "Girl Without Hands", "Alphabet Soup", and "Dirty Bird" are all great songs.

abegrand, Sunday, 9 November 2003 07:11 (seventeen years ago) link

it's fine. if you like laika then you'll like it. if you don't it won't change your mind. It isn't as good as Satellites, it's way better than the last one. The packaging is beautiful.

anthony kyle monday (akmonday), Sunday, 9 November 2003 07:20 (seventeen years ago) link

The new one's treading water really - I don't think it adds anything to their oeuvre; apparently it was mostly done by Guy during 2001 while Margaret was travelling the world in PJ Harvey's band; the words, I guess, are Margaret's (and they're more direct, I guess).

I was more excited by the shuddering, hyperactive "Beestinger" - the sole 2002 track on the Lost In Space comp - than this material.

I dunno, it might grow in the imagination if I leave it alone for a bit.

Michael Jones (MichaelJ), Sunday, 9 November 2003 16:10 (seventeen years ago) link

The new one's very nice... I haven't given it much of a chance yet, though conversely it hasn't exactly pulled me in. As Michael said... 'Beestinger' was far more exciting.

Of their back catalogue, I only have Sounds Of The Satellites and the greatest hits thing... I assume most of everything else is just as worth tracking down?

The Lex (The Lex), Sunday, 9 November 2003 16:22 (seventeen years ago) link

it's dull, that's two dull records in a row. at least margaret doesn't offer any
real' singing this time, mostly returning to the coos and whispers of the past but the music is pretty trad and not so innovative as before. or maybe laika just do not sound new anymore? it's almost as bad as the last moonshake record but not quite.

keith (keithmcl), Sunday, 9 November 2003 17:18 (seventeen years ago) link

There was a Maida Vale session from Laika the other night on BBC R1 - I left the MD running from midnight but have yet to wade through however much extended Photek DJ sesh there is to find it - it may not be on there at all.

I don't detect the figurative step back from the mic that Keith does - vox very much like Good Looking Blues I think (which may not have been in the class of the first two LPs but did offer something new; Wherever I Am... really doesn't).

Michael Jones (MichaelJ), Sunday, 9 November 2003 18:10 (seventeen years ago) link

five years pass...

Only dug into Laika this year after marvelling over their cover of Wire's "German Shephards". Love the breathy vocals and interesting beats. The 2cd best of is fantastic, though I also compiled the rest of their single tracks as an addendum.

Did anyone else work in a similar vein?

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Thursday, 5 November 2009 19:17 (eleven years ago) link


anagram, Thursday, 5 November 2009 20:19 (eleven years ago) link

Lamb and Insides were two musically ambitious post-rock (S. Reynold's definition) female led duos that also skirted the trip-hop category. Seek out Lamb's s/t debut and Fear of Fours, and Inside's Euphoria (the latter is one of my favorite albums of the decade).

Deliquescing (Derelict), Thursday, 5 November 2009 20:29 (eleven years ago) link

four months pass...

Overdosing on the first two albums a lot recently. Surprised they haven't been more canonised: the first one in particular is so comprehensively out there in pursuing its claustrophobic On The Corner meets Ege Bamyesi fixation (weird to think that they ever get pigeonholed as trip hop, even positively). Though I pull out Sound of Satellites more often probably due to its dreaminess ("trip hop" makes more sense here I guess).

Tim F, Friday, 2 April 2010 16:32 (eleven years ago) link

I actually ripped my Laika cd collection a few weeks ago and completely overdosed on them. Sound of the Satellites is my favorite too.

brotherlovesdub, Friday, 2 April 2010 16:51 (eleven years ago) link

two years pass...

I've liked Silver Apples of the Moon ever since I bought it ~15 years ago, but for some reason it never occurred me to investigate Laika any further. Listening to Sound of Satellites now, and it sounds fantastic.

Trewster Dare (jaymc), Friday, 20 July 2012 22:37 (nine years ago) link

Sound of Satellites is my favourite, so deep and dreamy. I love albums that kind of work as background music while also being really intense and charged and involving.

Tim F, Friday, 20 July 2012 22:45 (nine years ago) link

Yes, that's a good description!

Trewster Dare (jaymc), Saturday, 21 July 2012 00:50 (nine years ago) link

three years pass...

first two albums are still fantastic (and the latter two are also good)

lol vintage suzy

mookieproof, Thursday, 30 July 2015 01:16 (six years ago) link

Band was so cool. Margaret was briefly in PJ Harvey and Wire. Where's she at now? And what happened to Guy Fixsen? He was such a cool producer. Loved that Dog Faced Hermans album he recorded.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 30 July 2015 02:17 (six years ago) link

two months pass...

Ran across the 2-CD set cheap and holy shit they really were ahead of their time.

Elvis Telecom, Tuesday, 20 October 2015 12:00 (five years ago) link


Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 20 October 2015 12:03 (five years ago) link

We used to email, but it's been years. Married civilian life, law degree, job at the BBC, I'm sure if she does music again we'll hear about it.

Fastnbulbous, Tuesday, 20 October 2015 22:59 (five years ago) link

Yes!! Such a fantastic band, the high-point of trip-hop, if that's what they really were.

Plus I loved watching Margaret play with Wire on one of their tours, it was like a contrasting personality to the lads.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Wednesday, 21 October 2015 02:00 (five years ago) link

I never thought of them as trip-hop, I thought of them as sort of this future-world bizarro-world version of Can.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 21 October 2015 03:21 (five years ago) link

I loved these guys. Once in the 90s at the local HMV, I chatted up this beautiful girl in the trip-hop section about how if she liked Portishead, she'd love this, being so much less gloomy. (Showing how little I understood Portishead.)

I also emailed Guy Fixsen once as a fanboy, having loved his production on King Cobb Steelie and Laika atmospherics. He was nice enough to write back.

dinnerboat, Wednesday, 21 October 2015 14:38 (five years ago) link

one year passes...

Fucking classic.

Working night & day, I tried to stay awake... (Turrican), Friday, 27 January 2017 00:36 (four years ago) link

Last year I finally figured out how awesome Moonshake was with Margaret (as well as some of their stuff without her).

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, 27 January 2017 01:53 (four years ago) link

Eva Luna rules. But Laika is one of the coolest band ever.

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 27 January 2017 01:56 (four years ago) link

I just don't understand why Sounds of the Satellites isn't more recognised as being one of the finest electronica LP's of the time, but then I feel that way about the first two Lamb albums.

Working night & day, I tried to stay awake... (Turrican), Friday, 27 January 2017 13:19 (four years ago) link

I do not like Lamb much but Laika are so good and underrated. I think they didn't quite make it because they were too experimental in a way that trip hop and downtempo fans in the mid 90's couldn't quite digest it.

dance cum rituals (Moka), Friday, 27 January 2017 16:02 (four years ago) link

There could be something to that. Also, like Lamb, a lot of undanceable odd time signatures.

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 27 January 2017 16:16 (four years ago) link

do ppl dance to portishead?

mookieproof, Friday, 27 January 2017 16:31 (four years ago) link

7/4 is very danceable IHYK.

Noel Emits, Friday, 27 January 2017 17:07 (four years ago) link

xpost Yes. Very. Slow. Ly.

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 27 January 2017 17:14 (four years ago) link

They bob.

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 27 January 2017 17:14 (four years ago) link

I love Portishead, particularly the self-titled record which everyone seems to underrate in comparison to Dummy and Third, but Lamb and Laika speak to me far more. Something like 'Cotton Wool' is undoubtedly danceable!

Working night & day, I tried to stay awake... (Turrican), Friday, 27 January 2017 20:58 (four years ago) link

Interesting to try to conceptualise early Lamb as vaguely post Can and Miles Davis in the way that Laika so obviously were. It's like, it's hard to say whether the link was there but by he same token the big singles off Lamb's debut (Gorecki aside) feel so aesthetically connected to the first Laika album. That sense of rhythmic restlessness, it's too hot and humid for the beats to sit still.

Tim F, Friday, 27 January 2017 21:07 (four years ago) link

There's some afrobeat in that first Laika album, too.

dinnerboat, Friday, 27 January 2017 21:12 (four years ago) link

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