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This review is from: Oscillons from the Anti-Sun [3CD + DVD] (Audio CD)
Stereolab have had a highly prolific career since their inception in 1990, putting out numerous singles and EPs on numerous labels, often in limited edition, in addition to their high-profile albums. Fortunately for collectors of music, rather than artefacts, they have been responsible enough to compile a number of collections of these extra-curricular activites onto CDs. The Switched On series, which launched in 1992, had reached volume three by 1998 with the release of the double-CD Aluminium Tunes, but things had subsequently quietened down.
Oscillons From The Anti-Sun catches up with all their regular EP releases from 1993 up to Captain Easychord in July 2001. The earliest included EP is Jenny Ondioline, the first on their own Duophonic UHF label in the UK (a 7" vinyl single had come out the previous year), and also the start of their lengthy association with Elektra in America. Tour singles such as The Underground Is Coming and Free Witch And No-Bra Queen are not included, but will doubtless appear one day on Switched On Vol. 4.
Although not in any chronological order, thankfully all the EPs represented are included in full, bypassing the frustration of wondering what missing tracks might sound like and why they were excluded - a lesson other compilers might care to learn.
The Noise Of Carpet was a lead track in the US instead of Cybele's Reverie, and is included here, though Percolator, which replaced Young Lungs from the same UK EP, is not. Both The Noise Of Carpet and Percolator are on the album Emperor Tomato Ketchup, though whether in the same versions I cannot confirm. Additionally there are alternative takes or mixes of Ping Pong and Jenny Ondioline, though these differ from the familiar versions only in the slightest respect.
Whereas the EPs seemed to be designed to higlight the range and display the diversity of the groop, as they are styled, the tracking order of the discs seems to favour like with like, so that each disc has a dominant mood or ambience. First pressings of the box set include facsimile glossy labels of the seven EP covers, either to ease the conscience of those selling their original artefacts or for the benefit of newcomers to the recordings. These are fractionally reduced in size from the original paper inserts.
Considering that there is an additional DVD disc with eight promos and three live TV appearances which is probably worth the asking price alone, this box set is remarkable value for money and gives a thorough and representative overview of this unique outfit.