My first visit into the
world of Stereolab reminded me a little of a university biology course I once
professor began by laying out the four “immutable” laws of thermodynamics.
You may remember the second law, the law of entropy. It states that energy irreversibly goes from a state of order
to a state of disorder. She then
went on to explain the theory of evolution, describing the rise of the human
race from primordial “ooze.”
Stereolab moves in a similar swift, contra naturam manner on Cobra & Phases
Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night.
The album begins with an unstructured, dissonant first track.
My mood was pensive, to say the least, as I anticipated an entire album
full of noise. Fortunately, the
group gives way to musical structure and beauty in the remaining tracks,
employing breezy melodies and harmonies along the way.
Stereolab has long been a
favorite of the underground avant-garde music world, releasing fourteen
full-length albums over the last ten years.
With album titles like Emporer Tomato Ketchup and Refried
Ectoplasm, you get the idea that something is different about these London
The group uses hypnotic
rhythmic loops and catchy hooks to create easy listening music for the 22nd
century. If we could get a good
listen to the Jetson’s hi-fi system, I would guess we’d find Stereolab in
heavy rotation. Breathy lyrics in
French, English and the universal language of “La-La-La” let you know
quickly that Stereolab does not make their point with words, but rather with
their innovate sounds and rhythms. Ironically, there have been claims of
Marxist politics in their lyrics. If there is some controversy here,
they have hidden it well.
Cobra & Phases
is excellent background music for just about anything you’d care to do and I
guess there’s nothing wrong with that.