Transient Random Noise Burst With Announcements
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On Stereolab's first proper American full-length, the group skillfully dissects past musical genres and recombines them in their own Dr. Moreau-like sonic laboratory-garage. The recording is among Stereolab's least labored, most groove-oriented efforts. There are experiments like the French-pop-flavored "Pack Yr Romantic Mind," but it's mostly a lovely, loud, decadent '90s rock record. The song titles reference obscure equipment, the sounds are made with arcane instruments, the repetitive guitar work is directly lifted from Michael Rother, and the cover image pledges devotion to vinyl (the musical obscurantist's medium of choice), but somehow the band never comes off as snobbish. Stereolab's music would not only spawn dozens of imitators, but the very stuff they drew inspiration from (Esquivel, Can, Moondog, Os Mutantes) was suddenly the starting point for any self-respecting hipster's record collection. More important, it totally rocks ("Our Trinitone Blast") while beaming sunny vibes ("Jenny Ondioline"). --Mike McGonigal
Top Customer Reviews
Stereolab are more adventurous here than on any of their other albums. Surprising use is made of spoken words and phrases. Hypnotic repetition is used even more than usual. The extended instrumental interlude on "Jenny Ondioline" is like an acid trip, becoming progressively more frenetic and distorted until returning the listener, happy but bewildered, to planet Earth.
Don't let any of this put you off! If this sounds like a daring musical experiment, it was a very successful experiment. These "transient random-noise bursts with announcements" are not really random and not simply noise, but an artfully woven tapestry of musical contrasts. The songs have an adrenalin-pumping intensity that is certainly a bit different from Stereolab's later, more sedate sound.
All of which would explain why this album is so highly regarded among Stereolab connoisseurs. Why not become one too?