Almost Sleeping

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Laika's Almost Sleeping is a disappointing collection of three rather uninspired remixes and one album track. The only track of the three left untouched by outside hands, "Almost Sleeping," is by far the EP's finest moment; it's also one of Laika's best songs. "Almost Sleeping" is taken from the band's excellent Sounds of the Satellites album. It comes across like an effortless, haunting variation on One Dove's dreamy sound. Margaret Fiedler has rarely so relaxed, as her gentle vocals slide over shuffling beats and chilled electronic sound effects. For a band who frequently utilizes layers of attitude, "Almost Sleeping" is a most welcome change of pace. It's simply a beautiful song. The three remixers (Maxwell House, Cabbage Boy, and Luke Vibert) must have been asleep at their mixing decks/computers when they went to work on their respective contributions. "Prairie Dog" is rendered near-lifeless, as Maxwell House turns the song into something that would sound at home as the theme song to a bad spy TV show from the 1960s. It's slow-burning and moody, but it's a rather dull remix that doesn't really do justice to the source material. Cabbage Boy may have awakened a few times from his slumber during his remix job of "Shutt Off/Curl Up," but his workmanlike downbeat drum'n'bass treatment is more a bother than a treat. He mangles and distorts Fiedler's vocals and adds metallic garbling to the music. It's a bit sleep-inducing, and it shows no appreciation for the original song's sonic intentions. Luke Vibert seems to win the battle of the remixers with his additional production on "Breather." The song plonks, plinks, blips, bleeps, and bloops like one of Vibert's fine Wagon Christ experimentations. It's the only remix of the three that expands on the original song's energy. At the same time, it's nothing new, and it doesn't justify the cost of admission. "Almost Sleeping" fairs much better on Sounds of the Satellites, as it's paired with far better songs, which haven't been vampircally sucked of life by money-crunching remixers. The title of the EP is apt, as the three remixers probably were almost sleeping, making this Laika EP quite rather charmless.

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