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Silver Apples of the Moon

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Album Review

Starting off with a clattering, noisy loop but soon settling down into calmer but no less fascinating waters, Silver Apples of the Moon makes for a great debut from the Laika collective, inventive, modern, and unafraid to take chances. Unlike many efforts from folks with a more rock-oriented background that took an electronic plunge, Silver Apples of the Moon sounds like both Fiedler and Fixsen have been working in that field for years, and with confidence at that. Certainly Fiedler's experience with Moonshake and Fixsen's production skills didn't hurt, but Laika is, in many ways, a leap into the beyond for both, slinky and dark, with an obsessive focus on rhythm and groove. Comparisons are hard to draw — all the better for it, as it demonstrates the group's uniqueness — but there's something of the pioneering post-punk/electro/funk spirit of the early '80s here (check out "44 Robbers," in particular), only for a later generation with a broader background palette. Kindred spirits might be early Seefeel or contemporaneous Tricky, but more for the sense of sonic adventure than specific sound. Breathy shared vocals from the two at points suggest easy listening grooves and erotic tension (it's actually appropriate that My Bloody Valentine drummer Colm O'Ciosoig worked on the arrangements), but Fiedler takes the lead most times, and very well at that. The outrageously playful "Marimba Song," which understandably lives up to its name with certain key samples, and the crisp, punchy strut of "Coming Down Glass," with a truly purring bassline, are just two highlights of many. For all the darker moods and Fiedler's breathy, attractively low-key singing, what comes across most from Silver Apples of the Moon is a sheer sense of joy, of playing with music and creating atmospheres at once lively and maybe just a touch melancholy.

Biography

Formed: 1993 in London, England

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s

Like their namesake — the dog rocketed into orbit by the Soviets renowned as the first living creature to exit the earth's atmosphere — Laika traveled the spaceways, forging a distinct and wildly experimental fusion of hip-hop, jazz, electronica, dub, and Krautrock without earthly precedent. Somewhat of a Too Pure label all-star team comprised of former Moonshake vocalist/programmer Margaret Fiedler and bassist John Frenett, onetime PJ Harvey drummer Rob Ellis, and noted producer Guy...
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Silver Apples of the Moon, Laika
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