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R. Goldstone (Canada)

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Wherever I Am I Am What Is Missing
Wherever I Am I Am What Is Missing
Offered by MasterDVD
Price: 3.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ten new tracks = ten new drum patterns, 15 Nov 2003
I’ve enjoyed the music of Laika for quite some time. I own a copy of each of their albums so I thought I’d point out what’s new in Wherever I am . . . , and what’s stayed the same.
Returning are the playful, sometimes frantic drum patterns in unorthodox time signatures, spooky distant-sounding keyboard, reverberating marimba or vibraphone (or whatever that is), added-in vinyl hiss and pop, and Margaret Fiedler’s intensely personal lyrics.
She’s foregone the dense rapping style of previous outings and uses her very lovely mellow singing voice to deliver her simple lyrics. She even sounds very “pop” as she warbles about broken hearts on “Alphabet Soup.” The lyrics easily fit into the booklet whereas they had to be crammed in on the first two album’s liner notes.
The CD packaging is new: dual-fold plain white textured canvas, with a pocket for the booklet, sparsely decorated with rough sketches of human figures. It’s very nice compared to a jewel case. And it’s an apt analogy for a lot of the contents: the textures of drums as the canvas upon which rough song ideas are hastily rendered. Well, maybe that’s a bit harsh. The songs aren’t so much rough, but sparse and preliminary. Too much of the time it seems like she’s singing to a drum accompaniment. As with “Dirty Bird,” the songs have a promising beauty about them but end quickly without expanding on it. The album therefore just flies by in under 42 minutes.
I still give Wherever I am . . . 4 stars because their music is no doubt more rewarding than 99% of the tripe played on North American radio. And Laika makes you feel cool just for knowing about them.
If you’ve been following Laika like I have you’ll definitely want Wherever I am . . . But if you’re new to the band I would suggest Good Looking Blues (“Badtimes” is so amusing) or Sounds of the Satellites (“Spooky Rhodes”! ) You won’t regret venturing spaceward with Laika.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 1, 2008 4:13 PM BST

Outpost Transmission
Outpost Transmission
Offered by 5records
Price: 14.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rhythm obsessed, 13 Jun 2003
This review is from: Outpost Transmission (Audio CD)
808 State have really gone beyond the call of duty with Outpost Transmission. Although you can dance to it, this is not your typical "dance music." The whole album is an ornate, sophisticated, jumble sale of peculiar electronic gizmos no one else knew existed or had a use for. The 808 have always been rhythm-obsessed. Here, they often use more than one completely different rhythm per track, starting and stopping them frequently to make room for a menagerie of aural curiosities.
Several tracks have an Oriental motif happening, like Slowboat, a cheery little melody, Dissadis which sounds like a soundtrack for a movie about samurai warriors, and Souflex which starts with cheesy scales then unexpectedly shifts to spy movie strings. Cool. Chopsumwong and Suntower are meandering and ‘experimental-sounding', the latter has you flying through a magenta sky overlooking an alien landscape of bright orange trees and fluorescent green sand dunes (visual impressions may vary by listener). Lungfoo employs sax, flute, vibraphone (I think), and gongs. Yoyo is Orb-ish – with a fast fluttery rhythm, synth washes . . . plus electric guitar. Right now my fave is Bent with its truly wicked drum corps / hip-hop rhythm & timpani thing. Some rapper could have had a huge hit with this as the backing track, though it's very good such a thing did not actually occur.
Three tracks have vocals (if you don't count Boogieman which samples someone saying "boogieman boogiewoman"). 606, featuring Simian, has a bouncy bassline and a dramatic tone to kick it off. Lemonsoul starts out like a Depeche Mode track but then pensive keyboard playing and sleepy vocals (supplied by Guy Garvey) break through. Crossword's got beat poetry courtesy of Rev. D. Wayne Love. Admittedly, I don't know who any of these people are.
A note regarding the UK and US track listings: I have the UK version and the 4 tracks it has that the US does not are Boogieman, Roundbum Mary, Slowboat, and Yoyo, while the US version has Quincy's Lunch, Brown Sauce, Long Orange, and Doctors & Nurses.
Is Outpost Transmission worth the price? Oh, yeah. It's PURE GOODNESS. Would it be worth it to get both the US and the UK issues with a total of 18 shiny new tracks? Yes – simply forgo the purchase of mediocre dance music that you know you'll soon be bored with and get the import instead. That's what I'd do. But at least get one or the other. 808 State compose their music for the joy of it. So enjoy!

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