The High Llamas
Just hearing the name of this group conjures up the strangest imagery. Is it a reference to a group of chemical-addicted monks, or something else even more more bizarre? In actuality, the quirky name references the name of a British hot-air balloon, which is a much more natural fit once you've heard them. Chances are, most people upon hearing the High Llamas, would make use of the word "cheesy" in their explanation. While that's not completely wrong, there is a lot more to their music than well placed moogs, strings and bleeps.
The main man behind the group is Sean O'Hagan, and besides this project, he's been the person behind most of the string arrangements on recent Stereolab releases. His solo project, however, is a witty combination of subtle strings, electronic work, and airy vocals. There are some definite winks to Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) in the arrangements, and album is once again very cohesive. This release also finds O'Hagan going more the route of electronic sounds than on his last (and more aptly organically titled) Hawaii. Even with some of these new sounds, though, the album still doesn't sound bogged down. It's smart, yet kind of dorky music for those who know how to ease up once in awhile. It won't save the world, but it may put a bounce in your step.