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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 and were among the first wave of Post Rock musicians, mixing Kraut Rock rhythms and pointillist fuzzed-out guitar melodies with 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 is revered as a musical god, and where 11 minutes is a perfectly normal song length.

Tim Gane (guitar and keys) and Lætitia 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 Elekra.
  • Chemical Chords (2008)
  • Not Music (2010)

The groop provides examples of:

  • AcCENT Upon the Wrong SylLABle: Very often. Mostly comes from Lætitia Sadier not being a native English speaker.
  • After the End: "One Small Step".
  • Author Existence Failure: Mary Hansen, the band's guitarist and backing vocalist, was killed in 2002 when she was hit by a lorry while riding her bicycle.
  • Author Tract: The majority of their lyrics push a Marxist / Situationist worldview. Some are more subtle about it than others.
  • 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.
—"Contronatura"
  • Creator Couple: Gane and Sadier were a couple until 2004. The two-year hiatus that separated Dots and Loops from Cobra and Phases Group...? They took that time off to raise their child.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • Non-Indicative Name:
    • "Stunning Debut Album". Neither a debut nor an album.[1]
    • Not Music has more music than the title suggests.
  • Retraux: Their music aims for the audio equivalent of Raygun Gothic.
  • Vocal Tag Team: From '92 to '02, Lætitia Sadier and Mary Hansen's sing-song harmonies were one of the defining features of the Stereolab sound.

Notes

  1. It was a vinyl single, and it was preceded by the Super 45 EP.
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