September 22 — “Almost Sleeping” by Laika


If you only listen to one song today, make it “Almost Sleeping” by Laika (1997, from the album Sounds of the Satellites).

Laika was an indie-electronic, trip-hop(ish) band from London. They were active between the mid-1990s and the early 2000s, releasing four proper albums during that time. The lineup was in flux the whole time, but the core of the band was Margaret Fiedler and Guy Fixsen. Fiedler went to high school with Liz Phair, was an early member of Ultra Vivid Scene, and a frequent collaborator with Moby. She was also the co-lead of the band Moonshake. Fixsen was most known for being a producer who had famously worked with My Bloody Valentine and The Breeders. They were romantically involved for most of the time that Laika was active, and in the end, it was the dissolution of their romantic relationship that ultimately brought their professional relationship to an end. They tried to keep it going, but that dynamic almost never works. Superchunk is an exception to that rule.

Laika took their band name from the name of the Soviet space dog who was the first animal to orbit the earth. She was launched into space aboard Sputnik II on November 3, 1957 and died from overheating just a few hours later. For decades, the Soviets lied about her demise in an effort to make their space program look better. Until 2002, their claim was that Laika died of oxygen depletion six days into the voyage. In reality, there was some sort of mechanical failure very early in the flight. There were many controversies about their intentions for and their treatment of Laika. They never intended to bring her back to earth, and there was nothing in Sputnik II’s design for re-entry. It actually sparked debates across the globe about using animals in scientific testing. All of that is a fascinating story for another day on a different blog. This is supposed to be about the music.

“Almost Sleeping” is my favorite song from Laika’s second album. This is that song.
“Almost Sleeping” by Laika

It’s crazily repetitive with that synthetic drum beat and the really high bass line. It’s a really nice groove, though.

I’m not going to examine the lyrics or anything like that. I won’t even say what bits are my favorite. I will say, though, that the end drags out way too long. I’m really happy that there’s an alternate, condensed version in the “Almost Sleeping” single. Here that is:
“Almost Sleeping (Edit)” by Laika

Although I’ve been known to let the drone of it draw me into the long version, the “Edit” version is much tighter. You pick the one you like better.

After Laika broke up, Fixsen returned to his full-time profession of producing bands.

Margaret Fiedler married some dude named McGinnis and is now known as “Mags McGinnis”. She went on to earn a post-graduate degree in law and now works in some “legal” capacity for the BBC. She also makes “100% natural, eco-friendly” candles from soya wax and sells them in “vintage teacups”. I’m not even making this up. Here‘s an example. If that’s not some shit for white people, I don’t know what is.

The physical version of Sounds of Satellites is out of print, and unopened copies that exist are crazily expensive. Still, used copies exist, as do legal downloads.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

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