Quite simply, this album’s got more bitches and brew than Snoop Dogg. Miles’ classic fusion sound is reproduced flawlessly here with subtle updates like the addition of samples and Moogs. Why, they even remembered to have a song with a lot of bass clarinet! Thankfully though, samples are used more for things like squeaking screen doors than some ubiquitous breakbeat, and the excellent rhythm section of John Frenett (bass) and Lou Ciccatelli (drums) is in full attendance.
It would be so easy to say there’s no reason to listen to this if you’ve got any Miles records from that period, but then you might miss “Uneasy.” It’s a contemplative, yet not static song that reminds you that “Tom’s Diner” didn’t suck the first few times you heard it. Unlike Suzanne Vega’s song though, “Uneasy” has yet to ever get on my nerves. You might also miss “Badtimes,” quite possibly the first song I’ve heard to use an ultra-forwarded email virus warning as a beat poetry-like accompaniment to a perfect Miles replication. Then there’s Margaret Murphy Fiedler’s lyrics and vocal approach, which I’m finding more interesting with every listen. While “Uneasy” is the sort of thing you might catch yourself singing along quietly to, the rest of the album’s vocals are more like storytelling sessions, and interesting ones at that.
Some people ape Miles, and stop with that, content that the sped-up hiphop beats they’re using or the genre they normally operate in make them different enough. Laika seems to have dug a little deeper than that, and used a genius’ masterpiece as a starting point. Thanks to the addition of new sounds and the use of the human voice as an instrument, there’s so much more substance here than anything produced by the average person alone in a basement doing electronically reconstructed jazz.
Written by Pearson Greer.