Stereolab were a French/English rock groop
who played what might best be described as either "avant-garde M.O.R." or "space age bachelor pad music". They formed in 1990 from the ashes of the politically astute indie band Mc Carthy
and were among the first wave of Post-Rock
musicians, mixing Krautrock
and "motorik" rhythms, pointillist fuzzed-out guitar melodies, vintage synthesizers, and lounge-pop influences. Said lounge-pop grew in influence over the years until, by 1997's Dots and Loops
, they were basically playing pop music—albeit, pop music from an alternate universe where Raygun Gothic
never went out of fashion, where Burt Bacharach
and The Free Design
are revered as musical gods, and where 11 minutes is a perfectly normal song length.
Tim Gane (guitar and keys) and LŠtitia Sadier (vocals, guitar, and keys) were the only permanent members of the groop. Mary Hansen (harmony vocals, guitar, and keys), who joined in 1992 and died in 2002, and Andy Ramsay (drums), who joined in 1993, were also considered key members during their tenure.
They went on an indefinite hiatus in 2009.
Albums and Compilations
For a comprehensive discography, see their website
or the other wiki
- Peng! (1992)
- Switched On Stereolab (1992) Collection of their first 3 EP's.
- The Groop Played Space Age Batchelor Pad Music (1993)
- Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements (1993)
- Mars Audiac Quintet (1994)
- Refried Ectoplasm: Switched On, Vol. 2 (1995) Collection of singles and rarities.
- Emperor Tomato Ketchup (1996)
- Dots and Loops (1997)
- Aluminum Tunes: Switched On, Vol. 3 (1998) Collection of EP tracks, singles, and rarities.
- Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night (1999)
- Sound-Dust (2001)
- ABC Music: The Radio 1 Sessions (2002) Collection of live recordings.
- Margerine Eclipse (2004)
- Oscillons from the Anti-Sun (2005) Collection of EP tracks and previously-unreleased material.
- Fab Four Suture (2006) Collection of singles.
- Serene Velocity: A Stereolab Anthology (2006) Greatest Hits Album, focusing on the material they released on the Elektra label.
- Chemical Chords (2008)
- Not Music (2010)
The groop provides examples of:
- Ac CENT Uponthe Wrong Syl LA Ble: Very often. Mostly comes from LŠtitia Sadier not being a native English speaker.
- After the End: "One Small Step".
- Author Tract: The majority of their lyrics push a Marxist / Situationist worldview. Some are more subtle about it than others. It doesn't help that the two main members of the band from time to time give conflicting statements about this, as reported by The Other Wiki:
LŠtitia Sadier: "Basically I want to change the world. I want to make people think about how they live every day, shake them a bit."
Tim Gane: "[N]one of us are Marxists ... I've never even read Marx."
- Bread and Circuses: A few tracks from Dots and Loops seem to be about Spectacle, the Marxist concept that escapist media merely exist to keep the masses from questioning the status quo.
This is the future, of an illusion,
aggressive culture, of despotism.
Living fantasy, of an immortal;
the reality, of an animal.
- They also have a song actually called "Pain et spectacles".
- Epic Rocking: With the exception of Chemical Chords, every album has at least one track longer than 6 minutes. The 18-minute "Jenny Ondioline" and the 17-minute "Refractions in the Plastic Pulse" stand out.
- Everything Sounds Sexier in French: The band has alot of songs featuring French, including many that are entirely in the language.
- Expy: The "motorik" beat from Neu!.
- Fish Eye Lens: The cover art of Mars Audiac Quintet is a fish-eye photo of a synthesizer.
- Gratuitous Panning: Used deliberately, and to unusual effect.
- In "Analogue Rock", from Transient Random Noise Bursts, the organ is panned hard to the left channel, and the guitars, drums, and most vocals are panned hard to the right. They abruptly swap places, briefly, during the second verse.
- The entire album Margarine Eclipse is mixed in "dual mono", meaning every instrument is panned hard to one side or the other. Muting one channel or the other results in the songs sounding radically different.
- Inherited Illiteracy Title: The Groop Played Space Age Batchelor Pad Music. (Oddly enough, "Bachelor" was only misspelled on the front cover—the album spine and back cover spells it correctly.) Which also featured the song "The Groop Played Chord X" and inspired future album liner notes (and many a reviewer) to refer to the band as "the groop".
- Long Title: They have a few, including the album titles The Groop Played Space Age Batchelor Pad Music, Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements, and Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night.
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Ping-Pong", an upbeat ditty about a cycle of global economic depression, war, and all-too-brief economic recovery.
- Non-Appearing Title: The vast majority of their songs.
- Nonindicative Name:
- "Stunning Debut Album". Neither a debut nor an album.note
- Not Music has, in fact, music.
- Retraux: Their music aims for the audio equivalent of Raygun Gothic.
- Their album Mars Audiac Quintet is basically the Neu! sound with variations.
- Vocal Tag Team: From '92 to '02, LŠtitia Sadier and Mary Hansen's sing-song harmonies were one of the defining features of the Stereolab sound.