England - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 13 - 11/14/97
Dots And Loops
Duophonic Ultra High Frequency Disks
This band is confusing me. Two years ago I had a near
religious experience witnessing Stereolab at So What! in
Oslo. What happened to that band? I was not very familiar
with their music at that time, but they were so smart,
melodious, focused, fresh, French (not a very positive word
though, is it ?), fun to watch. And God, all those analogue
synthesizers. They even had the ability to rock on
some of the songs! Their records have never been as good as
they were that night, but I kept buying them anyway.
These days, Stereolab is on everybody's lips, and their
music is probably played on every cool party and clothing
boutique in Europe (what do I know about that?). Their last
album, Dots And Loops is receiving ecstatic reviews in
the Norwegian boulevard press. To my ears they have made
their least interesting record to date, but compared to the
Stereolab- related but horrible-ish Turn On project
earlier this year, it is a step forward, I must add.
Again, they have co-operated with the most hip musicians
in the world these days; they even went to Chicago
(the place to make records in the mid-nineties) and
Düsseldorf (the place to make records in the
mid-seventies, some people are led to believe) to record some
of this stuff. In the States, they have collaborated with
John McEntire (surpriiiiiise) and Douglas McCombs of Tortoise
fame, and in Germany Andi Toma, Jan St.Werner and Xavier
Fischer (one of them probably handled the tone generator in a
experimental electronic duo with Jan-Carl Raspe during
1971-72 before the latter found fame elsewhere).
makers of sound milieu they are quite unique
(Brakhage, the opening track, for instance), but I
think they lack songs, even more than before. You were never
caught humming Stereolab songs on the bus before, and Dots
And Loops sure ain't going to make you do so, either.
Their music is, as before, a blend of sixties exotica and
easy listening, seventies movie and television soundtracks,
German electronic rock, i.e. Neu and Cluster, with a dash of
drum'n'bass rhythms that seem to pop up on most artists'
records these days. It is probably one of the most
fashionably correct band in the world right now. But I must
admit that most of the time spent with this record on the
turntable, I have to concentrate hard to avoid that my mind
just wanders elsewhere. Their (often) two-chord melodies
doesn't exactly scream for your attention, and when turning
up the volume doesn't work either, the music just goes
together with the wallpaper of the living room.
interest in Stereolab probably won't rise before they stop
taking Eurovision Song Contest-music from the
continent too serious, but the worst bit with Dots And
Loops, though, is that I find much of it more comparable
to elevator music than said parenthesis in music history.
And it has nothing to do with the fact
that I was unable to obtain a copy on coloured vinyl!
Copyright © 1997 Peng(o)