Formed by Moonshake’s former vocalist/guitarist Margaret Fielder, its former bassist John Frenett, and noted producer Guy Fixsen, Laika belongs to the swelling ranks of rock bands, mostly English, that immerse themselves in dance-music technology and deconstruct it: Techno Animal, Scorn, God, Ice, Chicago’s Tortoise, and the current lineup of Moonshake. On their striking debut album, Silver Apples of the Moon (Too Pure/American)–the title’s lifted from a work by electronic-music pioneer Morton Subotnick–Laika coalesce a mind-blowing array of hyperfrenetic rhythms, skeletal melodies, Can-like basslines, wafting fragments of flute lines, and various other floating sounds into music unlike much else recorded before. Exploiting sampling technology to rework nonmusical sources, the group captures snatches of radio static, vinyl surface noise, and screeching auto brakes, to name a few, chops them up, and reassembles them into evocative rhythmic loops. Gentle, almost shy melodies, sung softly by Fielder, and a wide variety of textures emanate from this percussive groundswell. While their furious rhythmic mother lode certainly borrows conceptually from the jacked-up bpms of jungle music, the beats are arranged in more complicated patterns–seductively accessible but not necessarily suited to dance-floor activity. Laika open for Yo La Tengo, who are touring in support of their seventh and finest album, Electr-O-Pura (Matador). Sunday, 10 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 489-3160.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/American Recordings.