About The High Llamas
After a career throughout the '80s as one half of the lyrical pop duo Microdisney, Sean O' Hagan sought to expand on the ideas of classic pop with his own group, The High Llamas. Drawing direct inspiration from the Beach Boys Smile sessions (esp. "Cabinessence") and the arrangements of Van Dyke Parks, the High Llamas released a series of records in the '90s that placed heavy emphasis on orchestration and established pop formulas. The most successful of these records, Gideon Gaye, was a wonderfully woven together collection of pop songs, repeated ideas, droning woodwinds, strings and O'Hagan's distinct Donald Fagen-esque vocals. O'Hagan's frequent contributions to Stereolab and their spin-off as Turn On resulted in the release of Cold and Bouncy in '98. Showing a greater interest in electronics and remixes, O' Hagan's tightly woven arrangements were still intact but were now wrapped in Stereolab's retro-futurism. The lines are further blurred on the most recent Snowbug, which features guest vocals from Mary Hansen and Laetitia Sadier. Listening to the pop perfection heard on '94's Gideon Gaye, one can only hope that their current turn as Stereolab with a banjo is part of a greater plan.