"Instant O" is an especially difficult and pivotal release in Stereolab's history. Group member Mary Hansen's untimely death left many fans thinking the group was finished, and indeed "Instant O" was greeted a bit coldly. Hansen's vocals and musical contributions were no small part of Stereolab's sound and appeal, and although critics had been increasingly dismissive of albums like "Dots and Loops" and "Cobra & Phases Play Voltage In The Milky Night," Stereolab's evolution since the universally heralded "Emperor Tomato Ketchup" had carried listeners along and secured them touring mates like Quixotic and Sonic Youth.
At the time of it's release, this EP was a bit painful to listen to (in light of Hansen's death). Mary seemed glaringly absent. Five years and several albums later, it is hard to believe Stereolab put out an EP this dense and captivating with a core member missing! Woody, percolating basslines and near-feverish tempos barely anchor grooves that spin and turn at the whim of bleeping synths. Rhythms dance a razor's edge between disco and ska, deftly knit together by Laetitia Sadier's bewitching, slightly icy voice. Indeed, "Instant o" is a joyous and life-affirming dance record -- a rarity from a group that is evaluated so dourly by its disproportionately hip, hard to please audience.