Not Music – Stereolab

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Here’s a question: if you listen to ten Stereolab albums, will you be able to tell them apart?

The answer is probably not. Stereolab had a formula that worked in the 90s, but the repetition feels a little stale now.

The latest release, the awfully titled Not Music, was recorded around the same time as 2008’s Chemical Chords — an album I’ll admit that I had no interest in ever listening to, as I was convinced I’d heard all the great Stereolab necessary to understanding the canon. A few songs on Not Music actually make me want to reconsider that decision, leaving me questioning my previous notion of the band’s output in the 00s.

One of Stereolab’s greatest assets was their ability to take ideas from strange places –from French pop to Steve Reich and Kraut rock–and turn them into something particularly unique. Examples include the song “Two Finger Symphony,” which sounds a whole lot like the Faust song “It’s a Rainy Day Sunshine Girl,” except it has gone futurist pop. Some moments sounds like Tangerine Dream, others like Hawkwind experimenting with Philip Glass.

Not Music isn’t going to change any lives, but it tastes good, and it goes down easy.