Dear Laika—the 23-year-old UK-based musician Isabelle “Izzy” Thorn—today announced signing with NNA Tapes in partnership with Memorials of Distinction in the UK. Alongside the announcement, Dear Laika shared “Phlebotomy”, a spellbinding Bach invocation about “queer time” in the context of medical transition.
“Every six months I get a blood test to check my hormone levels, requiring three vials of blood to be drawn. Most recently, I fainted for the first time in my life,” says Thorn. “Transitioning is a constant process and it takes a long time, made longer in the UK by dangerously long waiting lists. Trans people often find their lives temporarily put on hold while they wait to finally become happy with their bodies. It can be a painful, lonely experience. I’ve spent most of the past 5 years waiting. I’m still waiting. And so I have begun to process time in a different way, as if it is simultaneously standing still and stolen away from me.”
This theme is reflected by the time-stretched choir sample that forms the foundation of the song; its sound is alien, at once syrupy and vaporous, creating an intoxicating sense of melancholy calm. Dear Laika’s clear, keening vocals soar above the choral texture, accompanied by a synth bass resounding like a distant cathedral organ.
Despite full immersion in the “classical” tradition from a young age, singing and playing piano and violin prodigiously, Dear Laika at once embraces and rejects these roots in pursuit of sonic invention and beauty, electronically warping classical instrumentation and conjuring ghostly choirs in the service of non-traditional structures and sound-worlds. Through invocations of mythology, mysticism and the natural world, Dear Laika explores dreams, time, love, loneliness, and being transgender through the lens of (admittedly limited) personal experience. Two albums of this pop music exist so far: Vision of St. Cross (2017) and Rinzen (2018). There exist four other ambient/noise albums for electric guitar and violin: Twin Mythemes (2018), White Leopards (2018), Dewy Reds, Fatal Jaws (2018), and A Panther to Ephraim (2019). This discography was selected in August 2018 to be preserved in the British Library Sound Archive. Dear Laika has played live, sharing bills with artists such as Matana Roberts, Loraine James, Mermaid Chunky, Mich Cota, and caroline; Dear Laika has also played violin as part of caroline in live performances.