Album Review: Laki Mera –The Proximity Effect

Vincent Coole (TCS Guest Reviewer) 25 September 2011

Laki Mera –The Proximity Effect

It hardly seems fair to position Laki Mera into the inevitable compound genre of ‘folktronica’ or ‘Laptop Folk’, particularly as they themselves would admit; they’re not exactly as soundcard savvy as Four Tet. However, Proximity Effect incorporates a definite English folk-iness in a Sandy Denny/Mellow Candle kind of way coupled with the sort of synth passages punk once sought to kill. So we’re left with Folk-Prog, which may seem a contentious soundscape to some but the two genres are hardly alien from each other, particularly in terms of virtuoso extended instrumental passages.

Away from the Pro-tools bit, it’s the simple ‘folk’ on this record that really allows Laura Donnelly’s serene, lilting voice to soar and take a commanding presence, such as in ‘Solstice’. Elsewhere it can be reduced to sounding like if Ellie Goulding had grown up listening to her dad’s Yes collection, or simply Nouvelle Vague coffee-house chic. The undoubted highlight of the record is ‘Reverberation’; a near as damn it Donnelly solo piece, with a wonderful turn of melody and Kafkaesque lyrics: The books on the table aren’t real/The wall can’t be leant upon. Such is the majesty of this piece that it serves to undermine the more synth-driven tracks such as ‘Onion Machine’ and ‘Pollock Park’ into mere indulgent claptrap.

Proximity Effect’s sound may well be esoteric (as Donnelly aptly warns ‘You wouldn’t like the sound what you find’) and I would admire the sheer egotism in those tracks if it wasn’t for the fact that they’re so well mannered.  Indeed, much of the flourishes and rhythm tracks are so understated that it can kill the intended finger-pointing anger of ‘How Dare You’ into sounding more like a whimpering complaint.  Perhaps it is best to refrain from buckling up this delicate record in any folk/prog/electronic straightjacket and just allow Proximity Effect’s lo-fi meanderings to politely wash over you. Just don’t be surprised if its overall effect is approximately an average one.

Vincent Coole (TCS Guest Reviewer)