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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Remembering Salako

posted by on August 29 at 9:46 AM

In 1998, just after Belle & Sebastion released The Boy With The Arab Strap, Jeepster Records would release the first ground-breaking album by another band trying to tow the wistfull, twee indie-pop line.

That band, Salako, and their first album, Reinventing Punk.Tu!At?Ion>:, would not CHANGE ROCK MUSIC FOREVER.

No. They were quiet. From the sleep town of Hull. They preferred to produce songs in their bedrooms. They were lost in the afterglow of Belle & Sebastion. I mean if a star is shining that brightly, itís impossible to see the meek planet coming to creation right behind it. But their they stood, forever in the shadow of B&S.

Fortunately they left behind 3 albums (one I’ve never found) and 2 EPs, to soothe our ears (which would be needed once we heard anything that B&S came up with after TBWTAS). Each one growing in style and production value (something B&S, to my mind, refused to do) until the band would vanish, like mist, like magic, into thin air.

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Reinventing Punk.Tu!At?Ion>: sounded like a mellow acoustic version of The Stone Roses. Lyrics were I little psychedelic, and delivery was whispered at times and lilted back and forth through sleepy nights and headphone speakers. But the band wasnít afraid of technology either. Sometimes they used little synth lines that would become prominent in B&S off-shoot Looper (Iíd say they ripped them off, but that would be going easy on Looper). Songs often didnít make it past the 2Ĺ minute mark, but that was okay. That was all they needed to be.

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In 1999 Salako released Musicality. A giant leap forward for them, the album was as twee and light, but much lusher, with a higher standard of production work. They started including songs with dueling harmonies that left you feeling like you were listening to something akin to stoned, blissed out Beach Boys, singing songs Simon & Garfunkel would have written on ecstasy. Smoke was blown in your face and you floated away on clouds of swirling, spiraling, soft guitar lines. Lyrically they were becoming bolder, with songs that stretched out to the 3 minute limit. They asked you with flutes whistling like Pied Pipers to Come! Follow Me.

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Late in í99 and early 2000 they released a pair of EPís called Mappleton Sands 201298/Ventimiglia 120899 which added some fun hokey guitar/banjo elements to a ďlouderĒ and ďlazierĒ sound. One of the tracks cheekily called (Have You Heard) Musicality plays spead up snippets from the previous album for a few minutes to give you a flavor of what youíve missed.

Then, as far as I know, the band vanished. I know they released another album, but Iíve never found it. So this is the legacy Iím left with. Itís a legacy Iím hopefully going to leave you with too.

And Iíll leave it like this. If you at one time liked early Belle & Sebastian, but wish theyíd lived up to their potential as pop tricksters and charlatans, pulling the fuzzy wool over your ears and eyes, then do, please, check out Salako.

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