Monday, 23 July 2018

Laika ‎– Good Looking Blues (2000)

Style: Trip Hop, Downtempo
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Too Pure

01.   Black Cat Bone
02.   Moccasin
03.   T. Street
04.   Uneasy
05.   Good Looking Blues
06.   Widow's Weed
07.   Glory Cloud
08.   Go Fish
09.   Badtimes
10.   Knowing Too Little

Synthesizer, Electric Piano – Guy Fixsen
Trumpet – Matt Barge
Bass – John Frenett
Clarinet – Pete Whyman
Djembe – Lou Ciccotelli
Flute – Louise Elliott
Guitar – Guy Fixsen, Margaret Murphy Fiedler
Vocals – Margaret Murphy Fiedler
Mastered By – Tony Cousins
Mixed By – Guy Fixsen
Producer – Fixsen, Fiedler
Sampler – Guy Fixsen, Margaret Murphy Fiedler
Turntables – Danny Doyle
Written-By, Engineer, Programmed By – Guy Fixsen

To some-- the hip, the jaded-- Laika's third release is likely to seem a bit of a disappointment. And in a way, I guess it is: after the sonic barrage of their first album, its two successors may seem a bit dry. In fact, by some standards, Laika have gone downhill not just since their first album, but since the first 20 seconds of their first album, which were arguably 20 of the most exciting seconds electronic music produced in the 1990s. Consider, for example, the generally shoddy treatment Stereolab has recieved from hipsters regarding their post-Emperor Tomato Ketchup LPs. 
The thing of it is, see, that the phenomenon known as electronic music-- half music and three halves public relations-- has always set itself up as The Future. The Future, of course, is always one step ahead, and this has led to the development of a freakishly malproportioned set of criteria by which electronic music is to be judged: one which values innovation above all other things. Constantly striving to push the envelope (in order to push the product, naturally), electronic music plunges blindly ahead into what so many fawning reviews refer to as "uncharted territory." This is all fine and good, except for one thing: left behind in the neverending move forward lie vast expanses of half, sorta and barely charted territory. 
Few blues singers are criticized for lack of innovation-- they're instead evaluated on their musicianship, songwriting and knowledge of their craft. Meanwhile, electronic music's mainstream has been largely unable to value itself as a tradition to the extent that artists are allowed to explore the nooks and crannies of their own genre. When an album like Good Looking Blues is released-- one that moves towards accessibility-- the general reaction tends towards dismissals of the "I've heard this before" or "Nothing new here" variety. 
Admittedly, Good Looking Blues doesn't seem like much at first-- pretty run-of-the-mill trip-hoppy shit: some loops here, some scratching there, a dash of hip-hop for flavor, shrinkwrap it and call it a day. Certainly, it's nothing like the grinding and irresistible Silver Apples of the Moon. But as bands like Stereolab have proven, a sheen of accessibility can conceal a wealth of texture, and Good Looking Blues more than makes up for its lack of originality with plenty of detail and craft. 
While generally more song-oriented than previous outings, Good Looking Blues is built on a foundation of acid-jazzy, polyrythmic beats-- the kind that just seem to shuffle along until you pay attention to them, at which point they prove to be more layered than Barthes' S/Z. Organic texture is provided throughout by such unhip instruments as the bass clarinet, the trumpet and the flute. Margaret Fiedler's vocals are much further up in the mix than on past releases. This is a welcome thing for the most part, though at points you may wish you could gloss over the lyrics: the opening "Black Cat Bone" in particular, whose stilted rap is basically Blondie's "Rapture" updated for the new millenium. 
Still, Good Looking Blues shows a Laika that has learned from its past mistakes-- they don't get lost in their own loops like they used to-- and willing to stretch out and explore their surroundings. I'd gladly see electronic music lose its innovation if it meant more music like this album's creepily sublime title track or the quiet Reichian beauty of "A Single Word." Of course, the hipsters would never stand for it.
Zach Hooker / Pitchfork 


  1. Please re-up !!! Thx

  2. No it ain't. Dwindly is a pain in the a... and it messes with most browsers... ; ((

    1. Follow the link:

    2. Thank you so much !!!