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coverpic flag England - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 13 - 11/14/97

Stereolab
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).

As 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.

My 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.

I'm sorry.

And it has nothing to do with the fact that I was unable to obtain a copy on coloured vinyl!

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You may also want to check out our Stereolab articles/reviews: First Of The Microbe Hunters, an interview with lab-master Tim Gane.

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