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Glaswegian four-piece Laki Mera continue their explorations in atmospheric electronica with The Proximity Effect, the follow-up set to their 2008 debut album Clutter, which they distributed for free via their former label Rhythm of Life. This one you'll have to pay for, and quite rightly. The band's sound revolves largely around the fragile but entirely disarming vocal of Laura Donelly and, as such, they are frequently burdened with fairly lofty comparisons to other female-fronted, lush electronic groups like Cocteau Twins or Portishead, and also the likes of fellow Glaswegians The Blue Nile.
The line-up is completed by programmers Andrea Gobbi and Keir Long, with Tim Harbinson on drums, while they take their name from mythology, specifically the Chimera (La-kimera... geddit?), a monstrous, fire-breathing agent of terror, amalgamated from the parts of several other creatures terrifying in their own right. Such a fearsome moniker seems utterly at odds, however, with their serene folktronica, another label variously foisted upon them whether they like it or not.
Such excess baggage seems not to affect their sound adversely, thankfully. The Proximity Effect is most assured throughout, and they are most beguiling when they embrace electro-folk-pop, like on the gorgeous Fingertips and the string-laden Fool. The clean clicks and whirrs of the drum machine seems to suit them far better, while the live percussion, on tracks like opener The Beginning of the End and More Than You, feels session-like, perhaps even a little over earnest; a bit 'prog', even. The haunting acoustics of Solstice, meanwhile, recall Kings of Convenience's gentle mastery.
Whatever, it would be a hardened soul indeed not to find Donnelly's haunting vocal entirely compelling, never more so than on Reverberation, a soothing six minutes of utmost bliss. Crater, too, showcases their skilful aptitude for sparse electro-pop. That it all shows significant promise perhaps goes without saying, and may be at risk of sounding patronising when levelled at a band now two albums in. But it does.