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Margerine Eclipse by Stereolab
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The most amazing thing about Stereolab's Margerine Eclipse is how much of a surprise it is. It's not just that it's a fantastic record--Stereolab have made plenty of those. But since 1996's classic Emperor Tomato Ketchup, they've been deconstructing and breaking down their mix of exotic lounge pop and progressive Krautrock, throwing up cyclones of electronic mist. It's yielded some beautiful, but cold and distancing work. Eclipse shocks you with the contrast. Filled with the warmest possible intentions, it invites you to fall in love with its kind thumps and aural flotsam. Anchored by a test pattern baseline and a sly beat machine, the title track wanders around the edges, breaking into the main groove only to smoothly dissolve in a bittersweet end. Sounds like any other Stereolab song, right? But here--stripped down, dynamic, and alive--it's simply charming. --Matthew Cooke
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Speaking of formula, Stereolab works with two. I tend to divide there career in half. Early albums such as Mars Audiac Quintet used Can and Neu minimalism. In the early 1990s, this sounded fresh as daises, coming off a decade of freeze dry synth pop. You heard forms you never thought you would again. In 1996 the lab technicians got sick of tiny organs and long drones, and expanded into 1960s Euro-cinema music, Serge Gainsbourg stances, electronic bubble baths, all kinds of textures and sounds long forgotten by all but Kztof Komeda fans. Emperor Tomato Ketchup started this massive expansion of sound, and with a minor holding pattern album here and there exempted, Cobra And Phases Group Play Voltage In The Milky Night , it has been fresh daisies, roses, all kinds of valentines ever since.
Margerine Eclipse does not add to this formula, but with Stereolab, this need never emerges. I can tell an early album from a later one, but after Ketchup, I cannot tell you which track is from which album. Frankly, I really don't care--it all sounds wonderful from these seats.
This 2004 release works from the center. The band has not gone back to the stripped sounds of the early 1990s, but they have scaled back the long suites, and apply more sparely the ornamentation they developed later that decade. The results are nothing new, but I have followed this band ever since the start on 1990s alternative music, and there is never a song of their's I don't enjoy, find value in. Each time a Stereolab track appears on WFMU or a college station, it is a refresher surprise. Low and behold I go home and find myself deep in my "S"s, diging out all from Transient Random Noise Bursts With Announcements to Dots & Loops .
Few bands can make me to that. If you are going to come up with a formula, invent a good one.
Top international reviews
Always Knew about them, never heard them so i thought i'd give "Dots and Loops" a go.
First and second play, Hated it. What Is this music?
But i'd bought it, so i gave it another go and suddenly, Utterly Loved it and Understood it.
Went out and bought 3 more albums.
One year on, I now have 13 Stereolab CDs!
Only a few more to go now.
Every one is different, every one is the same. Every one is Gorgeous, Groovy and Unique.
The singing in french does give it a counter revolutionairy feel, i think helped by the fact that the vocals remind me of Eve Libertine and Joy De Vivre of CRASS on their sublime "Penis Envy" album. And that's a Good thing!
The music IS pure Stereolab. You either love it, or you're an un-groovy f er!
It's simple music, yet intensely complicated.
For True Music lovers they are an essential Trip.
Can't say which is my favourite album, but i Do love "Margerine Eclipse" loads and recommend it as a Pop-Tastic intro into the canon.
But be warned! One album is Not enough. You'll see!
Glad i made the effort to discover them.
(Ditto "Tarwater" and "Jimi Tenor" who i've also been buying a Lot of!)