Stereolab – Instant O in the Universe (Duophonic)

Stereolab - Instant O in the Universe

Stereolab - Instant O in the Universe

This latest 5 track extended EP/short album is the first material from Stereolab since the tragic death of singer/guitarist Mary Hansen. It sees a welcome return to the funkier/live sound of earlier albums ‘Emperor Tomato Ketchup’ and ‘Amourphous Body Study Centre.’

The first track ‘…Suddenly Stars’ instantly surprises with its original use of percussion and experimental use of stereo sounds. Beautifully hypnotic voices and delicate guitar arpeggios appear to be coming at you from all angles

‘Jaunty Monty And The Bubbles Of Silence’ manages to be extremely funky and ever so twee at the same time. Little guitar licks compete with other-worldly underwater backing vocals until a big DJ Shadow-esque drum break enters and changes the mood of the whole song. This is the stand out track for me, not least for its amazing lead synth hook.

‘Good Is Me’ employs a repetitive vocal line and has a very live and jazzy sound, which morphs into a 21st century country and western mid section before moving onto dirty syncopated funk.

The last two tracks seem to be at odds with each other. ‘Microclimate’ is classic Stereolab, using warm organs, clicky electronic drums and modulating guitars. Ever-changing tempo and time signatures add bleeping synths, live drums and ‘doo-be-doo’ vocal harmonies. Contrastingly, ‘Mass Riff’ is rather weak and doesn’t seem to know if it’s a bluesy organ-led rock song or a funky disco track.

This new material is greatly welcomed and is a nice taster of things to come, which will hopefully lean towards the more emotionally charged sound of most of the record rather than the weaker moments towards the end.

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22 October 2003

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