Laika

Sounds of the Satellites

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During the two years that passed between the release of Silver Apples of the Moon and its follow-up, Sounds of the Satellites, the dub, trip-hop and drum'n'bass sounds which made Laika so distinctive and original the first time out became commonplace; never given their proper due as pioneers of electronica anyway, their prospects for creating music of similar depth and invention appeared to grow dimmer and dimmer as time went on. Miraculously, Sounds of the Satellites is even better than its predecessor, a simultaneous expansion of the band's sonic palette and a brilliant refinement of their past innovations. The pivotal difference between Laika and other similarly inclined artists is their unparalleled sense of atmosphere: far removed from the pummeling insistence of groups like Prodigy or the Chemical Brothers, Laika also avoids the cinematic film-noir ambience of Portishead in favor of a subdued, dreamlike labyrinth of sound -- the album is, by turns, claustrophobic ("Breather"), sexy ("Almost Sleeping") and menacing ("Shut Off/Curl Up"). Rarely is electronic music so suggestive, so fluid, or so human; Sounds of the Satellites exists in its own orbit, so far ahead of its contemporaries as to be off of the map.

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