9/10 Brian Staff review, 12 November 2010
Are they no longer high-frequency discs? I was obsessed with these lot when I was around me early 20's. Yes I sent off for all the limited 7"s, made sure I bought the spangly vinyl 'Emperor Tomato Ketchup' and sat there on my bed poring over it like it was an artifact from space (I think it actually was...) then they went lounge kitsch jazz and by then I was more into Squarepusher's acid stuff & getting off my face so off they went to some stupid second hand record shop in the sky. Do I regret it? Nah. They're one of those bands that are massively re-assuring to have around & when they stop making twinkly Parisian pop & kooky motorik space ballads, like they have just, in fact, done, you realise just how integral to the fabric of modern popular music they are - you'll really feel the glaring gap kids! This "post hiatus announcement" album is not a mopping up exercise particularly, but intended as the sister album to 'Chemical Chords' I think they kind of had CC2 pegged as the working title. Alas, I never heard that baby, but the Brettster & I saw them on the subsequent tour & found them to be in fantastically buoyant mood; and when they put their foot to the floor & got into that proper fired-up krautrock mode they always threatened, they were stunning. Let's face it, Laetitia has one of the most seductive and dreamy voices in the world and her vocals can frame even the most insipid of their tunes beautifully, transforming a tongue-in-cheek slice of neo-elevator muzak into a warm slinky masterpiece. This album features a really diverse selection of their many styles ranging from a spooked Broadcast-esque waltzer ('Aelita') through to the monged, syrupy, brass-heavy Kraut-mosh of 'Pop Molecules' back to the wonderful stargazing dreamer 'So Is Cardboard Clouds' - easily an absolute 'Lab classic. There's nowt so "obvious" as 'Ping Pong' or 'French Disko' on here - they ain't aiming for that chart placing these days, but 'Not Music' is full of reasonably poppy, lovingly detailed & fresh delights plus it's easy on the quasi-cocktail cyberjazz that pissed a fair few fans off years ago. Amazing how well the Emporer Machine remix fits into the middle of this album, the whole thing is beautifully segued and serves well as their (temporary, I hope) swansong. I must comment that Bradford Cox's Atlas Sound does Stereolab's legacy proud with the gorgeous, Lucky Dragons-like ambience of his 'Neon Beanbag' remix, closing a quality set in a remarkable trippy fashion!
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