Since back in the day when I heard a copy of Sounds Of The Satellites, I've been a fan of Laika. Their albums have never wrapped me in dizzying highs like some other artists that I enjoy, but I can always count on the group to create interesting and very listenable music that mixes exotica, trip-hop, and several other styles into releases that are pretty much uniformly enjoyable. When I heard that they had a double-disc singles/b-sides/whatever release coming out, I knew that I'd need to be getting it.
In addition to being a great collection of Laika tracks to date (spanning 9 years in time), it's also a great spot for someone to start if they're interested in the group and wanted to hear what they're all about. With 2CDs spanning about 100 minutes of music for the price of one release, I find it hard to recommend any of their other releases above this one. Forming when half of the members of Moonshake (Guitarist/vocalist Margaret Fiedler, producer Guy Fixsen and bassist John Frenett). Musically, the group has always treaded somewhat similar waters, but has obviously gotten more complex and skilled with each release.
What can you expect from Laika? Just about everything, really. You'll definitely get warm female vocals all the time, courtesy of Fielder, and you can also expect super-interesting rhythms, including some truly mind-boggling time signatures that somehow work when the group pulls them off. "Coming Down Glass" breaks free with some almost dub-like programming and international flair while "If You Miss" strips things down to a blistering melodic progression, some chimes and vocals (but still works wonderfully). They can pull off bubbly-sounding pop songs "Prairie Dog" and dark rumblers that are as mysterious as they are spooky ("Shut Off/Curl Up").
Some of the true gems of the release that haven't been released elsewhere are the 9-minute epic remix of "Looking For The Jackalope" by Jack Dangers (aka Meat Beat Manifesto) and the insane, drum-and-bass influenced "Beestinger" (a new song from the group that they state isn't necessarily the direction they're moving in). In addition to the great music on the 2CDs, the liners notes are some of the best that I've seen in a long time on a compilation collection. They include great little factoids about the group, hilarious anecdotes from the group (like them lamenting the scenes in movies that their songs have played against). It's obvious from reading them that they don't take themselves too seriously, yet have a lot of fun doing what they do. Perhaps that's why they've been around for 10 years, and will hopefully be around for much longer.