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Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night

4.4 out of 5 stars 89 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 21, 1999
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Stereolab have attracted one of the most loyal audiences in modern pop, with every album outselling it's predecessor. On their new Elektra album, Cobra And Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night, Stereolab expand upon the music explorations that have made them one of modern music's most influential bands. [Note: This product is an authorized CD-R and is manufactured on demand]

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On this bemusingly titled album, Stereolab toss around small chunks of music as catchy and irresistable as anything they've ever recorded. The warm Moog synth that leads off "Infinity Girl" or the horns that burst out of Laetitia Sadier's dry, layered voice in "The Free Design" will significantly boost your serotonin levels. The deconstructions these sonic scraps undergo and the analog keyboard textures around them are radically broad-minded, unveiling a separate and equally engaging architecture all their own. The ear follows one, then the other, first harmonically together, then suddenly cacophonous, all wrapped up in that familiar, '60s-a-go-go ambience. The scrupulous sensibilities of coproducers John McEntire and Jim O'Rourke are all over this record, incorporating the Chicago post-rock electronic sound and left-field musical influences at the heart of their work. Yet just when the song is sure to fall apart, Stereolab rediscovers the melody at the core. Take "Puncture in the Radax Permutation": a descending string melody mingles with a plunking xylophone-like pattern, the blend getting more and more abrasive. Suddenly the strings rise up with the drum track and a dreamy little tune reveals itself. It's not a record that's easy to get one's head around. Repeated listens, however, expose the diamonds in the rough, though the rough itself proves just as valuable. --Matthew Cooke
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 21, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Elektra
  • ASIN: B00001P4OP
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,876 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I cannot understand the negative reviews this masterpiece received from the press when it came out. I love this album from start to finish. The music itself sometimes defies explanation. When I try to tell someone what it sounds like, I usually say: sometimes electronic (but not quite), jazzy (sort of) or I give up and say just listen!
It bolts off to a frenzied start in "Fuses" with drums everywhere and the usual female harmonies that I love them for. Some songs take a while to figure out how the beats and melodies fit together, such as "Blue Milk" which clocks in at 11:29 (I happen to love long songs). I first couldn't stand its repetitive beats and chimes until I "heard" the shifting patterns, and layered sounds which seemed to shift places with each other several times, then finishes off conventionally, yet with the same beautiful repetitive pattern. "Caleidoscopic Gaze" almost reminds me of Yes with the sung harmonies during the "fast" part. It finishes with "Come and play in the milky night" a gliding, almost toe-tapping slow-burning finish.
Where "Dots and Loops" gave this sound electronically, "Cobra", it sounds to me, has just about all the sounds made "live". What I mean is, all instruments, including electronic, do not have that "programmed" feel to them like "Dots" sometimes did. It sounds like a live person created every note on a guitar string, drum head, or keyboard key.
It has every element of the best music that I love: complexity (in spades), melody, female vocals, intelligence, cool bass (I play bass), and just plain a sense of confidence that says "yea we're playing music that we want to make and not what the radio says to make".
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Format: Audio CD
I've got all their CD's and have been a fan for 6 years and I say this one is by far their best yet. The music is so well produced and thought out. Put this on the top of your shopping cart now! I'd also recommend "Emperor Tomato Ketchup", "Transient Random Noise Bursts..." and "Music for the amorphous body study center" as the best of the rest...and try to catch them live...the best live band I've seen.
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By A Customer on January 22, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This album pretty much follows the formula.... The fusion of jazz and electronics is there; as is the complex layering of sounds in (most) songs. Oh, and the trademark "ba-ba-ba-di-da-da-da" vocals from Laetitia. That the album wallows in the latter makes it a little disappointing. With the exception of "The Free Design" and "Blue Milk" in particular, this album is just a little too kitschy. So, it's questionable as to whether "Cobra & Phases" will attract new fans. However, it IS another Sterelolab release, and many (including myself) will buy it for this reason.
If you're unsure about which Stereolab album to get, then I'd recommend "Emperor Tomato Ketchup" and "Dots & Loops" before buying "Cobra and Phases". If you're just unsure...then try The High Llamas ("Snowbug"), Solex ("Pickup"), Alpha ("Come From Heaven"), or even The Now Sound of Ursula 1000 (self-titled, for something more beaty), too. Cheers! Ps: I gave it 3.5 stars...
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Format: Audio CD
Stereolab is probably my favorite band of the last few years. EMPEROR TOMATO KETCHUP is my favorite, and DOTS & LOOPS disappointed me somewhat because of its abstract electronica/jazz--a little too sterile, but it still impressed me with its musicianship. My initial reaction to COBRA is that it was a happy medium between the 2 previous albums. I immediately glommed onto Blips Drips and Strips and Infinity Girl as classic Stereolab moments. A month later, I discovered the last 2 cuts (it's a long CD, and I usually start at the beginning)--The Emergency Kisses is an amazing cut that's like 3 great songs in one, and Come and Play in the Milky Night is so good and melancholy and gorgeous--one of my all-time fave cuts, perfect to end the day with. I next went back and listened to all the old Sterelob CDs, and I was stunned by how much they've grown musically. I love the early stuff, but it sounds so technically and musically primitive by comparison. Be warned: this CD was underappreciated by the critics when it came out. It's truly excellent, one of the Groop's best!
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Format: Audio CD
Stereolab has changed so dramatically over the years, and so gradually at the same time that every album seems to sound the same at first. But if you put on this album and compare it with "Peng" or "Transient Random Noise..." you'll quickly realize that it's a different beast altogether. Having all but completely done away with their rock sensibilities, "Cobra" lunges deep into kitschy lounge tunes, chimey vibes melodies, and the obligatory "bah bah bah bah" backing vocal thing. There are some welcome left turns such as the free-jazz influenced "Fuses," the coursing "Free Design," and the very long "Blue Milk" which is easily the album's crowning 11-minute masterpiece. Very rarely does the album otherwise stray from the formula, but those into Stereolab will inevitably love this. Whether or not it will attract any news fans is debatable.
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