Laika | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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LAIKA

In 1997, when the Anglo-American quartet Laika released Sounds of the Satellites (Sire), the question arose: What does a band do after it makes its perfect album? Sounds wove together echoes of electric Miles Davis--baleful trumpet and flute, stop-start funk rhythms, spacey Rhodes piano fills--with driving drum 'n' bass; melodies and synth tones reminiscent of vintage Kraftwerk; and Margaret Fiedler's smooth, spooky voice, delivering dark lyrics about entrapment in desire and abuse. On this year's follow-up, Good Looking Blues (Beggars Banquet), Laika doesn't even try to chart the same orbit. Instead it focuses on the groove: guest turntablist Danny Doyle's scratching, John Frenett's (Jah) Wobbly bass, and Lou Ciccotelli's crisp drumming mesh into sleek, streamlined rhythms, and even Fiedler's vocals reinforce the pulse--on Blues she raps as much as she sings. The group's immersion in propulsion only deepens live: For Laika's records, Fiedler and Guy Fixsen, who share programming, keyboard, and guitar duties, work out a song's basics on a computer at home; Frenett and Ciccotelli are virtually sidemen, overdubbing their parts in the studio. Onstage, though, the rhythm section's an equal partner, and invests the music with a crushing weight. Tuesday, 9 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 773-489-3160.

BILL MEYER

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