Laika - Wherever I Am I Am What Is Missing
Laika’s fourth studio album Wherever I Am I Am What Is Missing is more a soundtrack to a life peddled through urban noir as opposed to a collection of tracks. Each song blends coldly into the next, and even lead singer Margaret Fiedler’s voice seems pushed aside by the alienating ambiance that radiates from the album.
Laika describe themselves as an ‘emotional mix of rock, electronica, jazz and dub’, and that’s a fair assessment. Think electroclash without the Fischerspooner disco riffs or Kid A with a much funkier bass line. For all you indie enthusiasts now rushing to buy the album based on the last sentence, you’ll be sad to note this is where the Radiohead comparisons end.
However, there are many comparisons one can throw into the Laika mix, on the one hand it could be described as an uptembo version of Portishead’s Dummy with ferocious drumming samples, and on the other hand certain elements draw comparisons to some of Vangelis’ more early eighties postmodern efforts. On repeated listens, some of the musical hooks start to appear, and Alphabet Soup, with the main driving chorus of “You Broke A Heart A Many A Time, But You’ll Never Break This Heart Of Mine”, certainly shines as the most accessible cut from the album.
Sometimes, albums, particularly fitting of the Jazz genre, are supposed to inject moods into the listener whilst he or she undergoes their daily routine. Some music isn’t designed to prioritise itself over everything else. Classical pianist Satie claimed that he composed music that would be perfect to eat dinner to. With this in mind, Wherever I Am I Am What Is Missing is a perfect choice as a mood setter for anyone with posh aspirations; it’s better than many of the chilled DJ sets that are dispersed through out inner-city locales, and it’s distant enough in its mental penetration to enter the mind and not dominate it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
On the whole, Laika’s latest album will do nothing for chart-hunters, but certainly has a place amongst the more elegant city-goers’ record collections. They get their name from the Russian dog that was sent into space on Sputnik 2 in 1957, and yet far from venturing into transient exploration, lie rooted musically in the chaos of their urban dwellings. It will pass by mostly unnoticed, but Wherever I Am I Am What Is Missing could well be important for some.