Stereolab: Not Music (CD Review)

Stereolab

Not Music

Drag City CD

Stereolab’s 2010 release Not Music was actually recorded back in 2008, at the same time as their previous LP Chemical Chords. One can understand why the two weren’t released concurrently. Like Radiohead’s Kid A and Amnesiac, one can view Chemical Chords, the first-released, as the more accessible or pop-friendly, recording. Meanwhile, Not Music shows Stereolab in a more daring, experimental vein.

But lest you think that daring means “impenetrable,” there are still plenty of fetching vocal hooks and tuneful accompaniments. One just finds the band seeking wrinkles in terms of song form or an unusual, yet frequently fetching, arranging touch. Take “Delugeoise,” for instance. It features delicate mallet-percussion in its minimalist intro, then morphs into horn-heavy orchestra psych-pop during the main body of song. This gives way to a coda festooned with Tropicalia percussion and electric harpsichord plus vintage organ. Three different subset arrangements that each appear from far afield, yet they congeal into a pleasing 3 1/2 minute out-pop confection.

The CD ┬áincludes two extended tracks: “Silver Sands,” which clocks in at 10’21″, and the eight-minute long “Neon Beanbag;” the latter is remixed by Atlas Sound (Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox in side-project mode).

Sadly, Not Music serves as at least a ‘temporary’ valediction, as the band has since gone on indefinite hiatus. Let’s hope their departure from the electro pop stage is short-lived.

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