The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'stereolab'


Stereolab have called it a day.. Well, in a world in which bands routinely reform around the 20-year mark, they're being cautious and calling it a hiatus rather than the end of Stereolab forever.

As we recently made #51 with Emperor Tomato Ketchup in the Amazon 100 Greatest Indie Rock Albums of all Time we feel that our work is done for the moment.

We have had to cancel the last two shows that we were scheduled to play, apologies to all that had bought tickets, and there are no plans to record new tracks.

Duophonic are working on the release of Chemical Chords 2, we also have plans for a new Switched On and remastering of the back catalogue.

Stereolab fans will have to be satisfied with their existing output for the indefinite future.

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It looks like the rerelease fairy had been busy recently, with a goodly number appearing on the horizon. First of all, Stereolab's 3CD+1DVD retrospective Oscillons from the Anti-Sun, is coming out in just under two weeks (a few days before OSX Tiger). I'll probably pick it up, it having a decent number of tracks I haven't got, as well as the videos.

Meanwhile, a month after that, there's a Belle & Sebastian singles compilation coming out, wittily titled "Push Barman to Open Old Wounds", with a decent number of singles and B-sides up until I'm Waking Up To Us.

And then there are those Cure rereleases, all lovingly remastered and packed with extra CDs of bonus tracks, live recordings and demos, all from back when The Cure were interesting. Or, as VICE Magazine (which, incidentally, gave the three rereleases 30/10) put it:

He wrote these in his early 20s. He thought he'd be dead by 27. Creatively, he kind of was.

Anyway, it's good to see a version of Carnage Visors coming out that's not a badly encoded MP3 of a well-worn 3rd-generation cassette recording.

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After being dumped by Warner, Stereolab have announced a new deal with their old label, Beggars Banquet imprint Too Pure. The deal is a worldwide licensing deal for their Duophonic label (which did UK releases, with overseas territories being Warner's), and also includes the new release from Lætitia's side project Monade. It will be followed, in late April or early May, with a 3-CD/1-DVD box set of Stereolab EP/single tracks titled, characteristically, Oscillons From The Anti-Sun.

Meanwhile in Pitchfork, details of the new New Order album, which will be titled Waiting For The Sirens' Call, and supposedly be more electronic than the last one (though there were also rumours that it was going to be in a dirty-blues-rock direction like Primal Scream after the Ecstasy wore off). One of the tracks is titled I Told You So; I wonder whether this is a nod to former Factory labelmates The Wake, who had a very New Orderesque song by that title on their last album.

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Meanwhile, Stereolab have been dumped by the Warner Music Group, who release their records outside of Britain (where their own indie label, Duophonic, do so). The Warner imprint the groop were signed to, Elektra, has been abolished, and nearly half of all Warner artists are expected to be axed. Those staying on, meanwhile, will have to do with smaller budgets, in what could be new boss Edgar Bronfman Jr.'s initiative to turn Warner into a back-catalogue holding company.

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A quick review of various items which arrived at my PO box today:

  • Various artists, "Romantic and Square is Hip and Aware": a Smiths tribute album featuring mostly guitar-based jangly indie-pop bands who can probably trace their lineage back to Manchester's Finest. They're not bad, though many of them don't add much in the way of new ideas to the originals; don't look for too many radical reinventions here. Brazilian band Pale Sunday's bossa-tinged take on I Know It's Over is quite good, Anglo-Spanish popsters Pipas do a slightly dubby take on This Night Has Opened My Eyes and Jason Sweeney does a good Morrissey impression over bedroom electronics. Meanwhile, Australia's national indie band The Lucksmiths' take on There Is A Light That Never Goes Out sounds much like the original, only as a duet, deviating from the master about as much as Neil Finn's version from some time ago, while The Guild League's take on Panic has a jaunty, slightly brass-bandish take on it. The liner, by someone from The Snowdrops (who cover Bigmouth Strikes Again) notes are much the usual autobiographical tale of growing up awkwardly in the bedsits of Thatcher's England with one's Smiths records. (via Traffic Sounds.)
  • Harvey Williams, California: I had the MP3s for this, and decided to get the CD. In the decade or so between Another Sunny Day (who brought us bedsit anthems like Anorak City and the unforgettable You Should All Be Murdered; check the filesharing nets for them) and this 1999 release, Harvey Williams had mellowed somewhat, bringing a CD of piano ballads, both touching and satirical, with a wry, and very English, turn of phrase, about the usual boy/girl situations. In a parallel universe, some of these have probably been picked up by Working Title for a London-based Gwyneth Paltrow romcom and Harvey has become the next Badly Drawn Boy. But there are some nice tracks here; the Bacharachesque instrumental Introducing..., for one.
  • The Autocollants, Why Can't Things Just Stay The Same?. Lo-fi sweet indie-pop which starts off OK, though sounds a bit samey in places. Perhaps it's the production (the guitars sound like they were recorded on a four-track in someone's bedroom), or perhaps Laura Watling's voice is just that much too breathy for prolonged listening.
  • Stereolab, 2004 Tour CD: whilst the groop don't look like visiting Australia this year, a copy of this 3" disc has made it into my hands courtesy of an American source (ta, bfd!). Contains three tracks, with the exquisitely Labbish titles "Banana Monster Ne Répond plus", "Rose, My Rocket-Brain!" (subtitled "Rose, Le Cerveau Electronique De Ma Fusée!"), and "University Microfilms Limited". And, yes, it's quite good; this isn't mere filler. The first track has an epic, multipartite quality akin to the best of the Lab, in its 5 and a half minutes, the second one sounds like the output of an automatic Stereolab song generator (in a good way), and the third one's not bad either.

I also got a copy of that CD of HP Lovecraft-themed retro fonts. Had I paid any more for it, I'd be disappointed; some of the letter spacing is a bit inconsistent, and more annoyingly, all the fonts have "HPLHS" as the style (where "Bold", "Italic" and so on should be), with the different weights and slants in each family showing up as separate faces. I suspect that the designers are not professional typographers (btw, who would call a font "Italic"?)

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Pitchfork's review of Stereolab's Margerine Eclipse sounds reasonably promising:

When the band released an uninspired Instant 0 in the Universe EP in 2003 (coming off their first year without new studio material since they started making records), it looked momentarily as if the train was stopping. Now, the notion seems funny because listening to bright, buoyant tunes like "Le Demeure" or the fantastic opener, "Vonal Declosion", reminds me that they'll probably keep going like this until they're gone.
The aforementioned "Vonal Declosion" rings in the new record with a flash and the trill of the Farfisa, as the bass dances below Sadier's well-worn rhythmic French nothings. What's more, as the band transitions into a section sounding ripped out of Harry Nilsson's "Everybody's Talking" and Mary Tyler Moore Show incidental music at once, supermarket strings enter on the left and reveal Stereolab's true calling for delivering Perfect Pop for Then People. "Cosmic Country Noir" pulls out the classic robotic Wurlitzer drum machine patterns for more antiqua-groove, though the main body of the song is more reminiscent of The Free Design than Kraftwerk.

I'll probably buy it when it comes out (by mail-order from the UK, given the local Warners subsidiary having contracted the Copy Controlled disease).

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Via Graham, an interesting recent interview with Tim and Lætitia of Stereolab:

Unsurprisingly, Sadier has found lyrical inspiration in the Iraq war. I tell her that Jacques Chirac is seen as some kind of peacenik in the UK and she is horrified. "Bulls**t, he's not a pacifist. It's good to be non-aligned with the US, and Europe is a great project, but the guy makes weapons! He's ready for war. Now hes saying lets put UN control in Iraq and share the cake. I dont think he cares for the Iraqis."
He looks genuinely scared by the phenomenal power of pop music. "There is an evil twin version of any song you write. You must remember that youre only a step away from being Bonnie Tyler at any moment."

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First impressions of the 3 CDs which arrived in the mail today:

  • Stereolab - Instant 0 In The Universe. The groop are back in fine form; this album follows on from their earlier material, in classic Stereolab fashion. Lætitia appears to harmonise with herself on one track, which works. This is more the jaunty Stereolab than the experimental Stereolab. No huge departures, though the last track does go a bit disco-y towards the end. I rather like it.
  • Spearmint - My Missing Days - much like their earlier albums; spiky powerpop with Shirley's impassioned vocals. Some tracks have string arrangements; the songwriting is pretty good too.
  • The Pastels - The Last Great Wilderness Only 24 minutes long, and most of it is short instrumental themes, ostensibly for a Wicker Man-style film. There's one song with Katrina singing, and a "sleazy electropop" track featuring Jarvis Cocker, which seems, at least to me, a bit bland.

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Details of the next Stereolab album, to be titled "Margerine Eclipse" (I kid you not), and containing tracks with names like "Vonal Declosion [accent on the 'e']", "Cosmic Country Noir" (there's another one of those Stereolab manifestos-in-a-song-title) and "The Man with 100 Cells". I am told this is genuine.

And while we're talking about music, does anybody else think that Belle & Sebastian's Stay Loose sounds like it had been recorded by an Australian/NZ band around 1980 or so? (There's the delayed guitar chords and the organ, to name two things.)

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Today's InPress has a review of Architecture in Helsinki's new album, Fingers Crossed, comparing it to "Belle & Sebastian on Prozac", and suggesting that AIH may in fact be Belle & Sebastian in disguise. The review also makes references to Stereolab and Frente. Heh.

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I wandered down to PolyEster this afternoon, and saw the new Massive Attack CD. Nice packaging; though pity it's not available on a CD (only on one of those copy-restricted non-Red-Book-compliant CD-like things). Bugger that then.

(The label on the packaging says that it works with Windows, presumably in some "secure" DRM mechanism. I can understand us Linux-using nonpersons being snubbed by the recording racket ("get a copy of Windows, you bum!"), but EMI's big fuck-you to the Macintosh-using audience, especially on a Massive Attack disc, is harder to justify. Let's hope they change their minds before releasing the next Morrissey record.)

(Btw, is 100th Window released in Red Book-compliant, non-"copy controlled" CD format in any other territories?)

I did, however, pick up the new Architecture in Helsinki album, Fingers Crossed. The packaging is very cool, and on first listen (six tracks in), it sounds pretty good, in a garage-indie-pop-meets-electronica vein. Some of the tracks sound a bit unpolished (though that's probably deliberate), though there are some real gems; especially Scissors Paper Rock; expect to hear that in one of my DJ sets, possibly next to some Stereolab or something.

(Btw, what is it about Casio-wielding indie bands naming songs after games? You had Lacto-Ovo's Bingo, Ninetynine's Cluedo and Uno, and now AIH have joined the trend.)

I also picked up Stereolab's Cobra and Phases Group... while I was there. With that, my Stereolab collection has doubled in size over the past week.

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4 1/2 hours remaining: Favourite CDs of 2002:

  • Club 8, Spring Came Rain Fell. Very nice indie-pop from Sweden, with just enough electronica.
  • Victor Lancaster, Mr. Mention Yes, the guy who plays the plastic bucket drums in Melbourne. And, with the attention of local remixers, this disc is better than you'd expect.
  • New Order, Here To Stay (single). New Order back in fine form.
  • Ninetynine, The Process. Their best album so far; quirky, sophisticated and with all the energy of their live sets.
  • Parsley Sound, Platonic Rate (single). Very laid-back and mellow.
  • Stereolab, Sound-Dust. It's Stereolab. Naught More Terrific Than Man is probably my favourite cut.
  • Various Artists, Can't Stop It! Australian Post-Punk 1978-1982. Contains a wealth of stuff from proto-synthpop to Dadaist noise to jangly guitar-pop.

Honourable mentions: Sigur Rós, (), Letraset, Snowy Room, Architecture in Helsinki, Like a Call (single) (especially Jeremy Dower's remix), Qua, Forgetabout (the title track is great, though much of the rest is a bit too generically laptop for my tastes), Season, 2,551,446 seconds, Pipas, A Cat Escaped, The Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.

CDs I meant to get but didn't manage in time for this list: Happy Supply, Crucial Cuts, GY!BE, Yanqui U.X.O., Ivy, Guestroom, some local spoken-word/electronica thing titled Every Third Breath.

Older CDs I listened to a lot in 2002:

  • Belle & Sebastian, The Boy With The Arab Strap
  • The Field Mice, Where'd You Learn To Kiss That Way (yes, again; I just can't leave it alone, honestly I cannot...)
  • FourPlay, The Joy Of
  • Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions, Bavarian Fruit Bread. Very nice.
  • Lush, Split.
  • Mogwai, My Father My King. Intense, immersive noise.
  • Radiohead, OK Computer, and I Could Be Wrong
  • Slowdive, Pygmalion. I travelled a bit, and it made excellent music for journeys.
  • The Smiths, The Queen Is Dead. This is becoming my favourite Smiths album.

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10 reasons why Mary Hansen was cool. Damn right; she sounds like she was a very cool individual, the world will be a little emptier without her. Why is it always the cool people whose lives end up being cut short in absurdly meaningless accidents, and never the crashing bores whose irritating antics fill the media?

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Mary Hansen, member of experimental ba-ba-ba ensemble Stereolab, died in a bicycle accident in London on Monday. She was 36. (via a bunch of people)

(Which shows (a) how absurd and fleeting life is, and/or (b) the brutally anti-human nature of car culture/speed-obsessed modern society. But, above all, is quite depressing.)

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An article from The Age about Stereolab, who are touring this week.

"We are sometimes asked to re-record French songs in translation, usually for commercial reasons; day-time radio won't play anything foreign. But we really can't see the point. It's ridiculous - most English pop songs don't make much sense anyway.

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The show at the Punters was OK. Love of Diagrams was a guitar/bass/drums outfit who played a really tight, energetic instrumental set. Then Sir came on, doing a number of songs (topically enough, they played Handsome first); they were good, though let down a bit by problems with the sound. Anyway, they played their new songs, which was good. Finally, on came Ninetynine, who rocked. They played various old and new songs (including the old one with the Casio VL-1 drum loop; a real touch of class, that), with tremendous energy (as usual, Cameron went berzerk on the drums), swapping instruments between songs as they usually do. They also mentioned that they're supporting Stereolab when they tour, though I think that's at the Prince of Wales show, not the Corner one (to which I'll probably be going).

Pity I couldn't be in two places at once, because Partition were doing a support set at the Dan O'Connell at the same time. I really wanted to hear what their Field Mice tribute song was like...

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