At times tinged by the industrial, beat-ridden, post-funk of 23 Skidoo, with shades of eclectic Krautrock, hues of the dubby trip-hop of Portishead, Massive Attack and UNKLE, and even brush strokes from the glorious grooves of the electric-era jazz of Miles Davis, Laika's distinctive music seamlessly utilises a broad palette of sounds and influences evinced over the course of four albums. Named after the famous canine cosmonaut, this is an outfit that deserves a cult significance I don't believe they ever accrued. Of course, in the vicissitudes of art this is far from unusual, even if it seems like a criminal case of neglect. `Silver Apples of The Moon' was pretty much where it began in 1994 (after the initial `Breather' EP), and if you're wondering if Laika have anything more in store for us, well all I know is that the last I heard from them was a superb compilation called `Lost In Space' in 2003, which includes a wonderful rendition of `German Shepherds' by Wire, those fine art-school pioneers of post-punk innovation.
Laika defy easy categorisation, and although this is their strength, it may account for their lack of market penetration, for as we all know, it's easier to sell something that conforms to the manufactured parameters of expectation. They're identifiable neither as a rock act nor an electronic one, existing instead in a liminal space somewhere between the two, with their music additionally inflected by influences from jazz, lounge, and world musics. What really commends Laika though, is the combination of musicianship and production savvy, so that we are treated to songs that are expertly executed, finely arranged and recorded with technical finesse. Whilst the music of Laika is always percussively exciting, Margaret Fiedler also provides wonderful vocals that are whispered in alluring breaths, and tell intriguing tales woven through enigmatic phrases. It all adds up to a rather addictive exploration of both sonic texture and song-smithing. I guess then, that this is less a review of `Silver Apples of The Moon' than it is an endorsement for the entire output of the Laika project. This might just be the enervating musical discovery you need!