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Stereolab - Not Music

Stereolab, Hot Music

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

STEREOLAB’S 12th album goes by the name of Not Music, which almost inevitably invites negative assumptions. Unfortunately, there are times when it lives up to its name!

The album is the result of Stereolab’s recording sessions in the summer of 2007 at their studio in Bordeaux, when they concocted 32 tracks and divided them into 2008’s Chemical Chords and this new release.

It’s released during the band’s self-imposed hiatus from recording and touring and is deliberately intended to blur the gulf between Os Mutantes and the BBC Radiophonic Orchestra, to merge Krzysztof Komeda with The Velvet Underground and Burt Bacharach with Esquivel.

The result is as diverse, mixed up and all over the place as that mix sounds, veering wildly from lush and kooky, to funky, or downright annoying.

It’s variously ambitiously cinematic, self-consciously DIY, sometimes dance-driven and occasionally just plain irritating.

During its highs, there’s the distinctly French Riviera vibe of Supah Jaianto, which also incorporates elements of samba, the trippy So Is Cardboard Clouds, the Mark Ronson inspired funk of Equivalences and the heady percussion of Two Finger Symphony.

But the lows, which become more frequent as the album unfolds, find Stereolab living up to the ‘not music’ description of the album’s title. Tracks like Silver Sands, Delugeoisie and Sun Demon never really find a satisfying rhythmn or formula, while the final three offerings are just plain trippy and/or experimental and drag the album wildly off-course.

It’s a shame, because the early playfulness seemed to have suggested a far more enjoyable overall experience.

Download picks: Supah Jaianto, So Is Cardboard Clouds, Equivalences, Two Finger Symphony

Track listing:

  1. Everybody’s Weird Except Me
  2. Supha Jaianto
  3. So Is Cardboard Clouds
  4. Equivalences
  5. Lelekato Sugar
  6. Silver Sands
  7. Two Finger Symphony
  8. Delugeoisie
  9. Laserblast
  10. Sun Demon
  11. Aelita
  12. Pop Molecules (Molecular Pop 2)
  13. Neon Beanbag