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"Not music" review
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"Not music" review

"Chemical Chords came out in 2008 and the following year their manager pretty much signalled the end of the band with the news that they were taking an indefinite Ďhiatusí. So this new release (which appears to have been recorded at the same time as the last album) could well be their last will and testament. If thatís the case it would be a real shame as ĎNot Musicí generally sees the group on fine form. Opening with an archetypal Ďlab track ĎEverybodyís Weird Except Meí (female harmonies, vintage keyboards, slightly spaced out percussion) itís clearly business as unusual. Perhaps thatís the problem though? Maybe after 19 years of creating ultra cool soundtracks to films that donít exist the band feels its work is done? Certainly thereís an incredibly distinctive Stereolab sound which, if you were feeling critical, you could point out was a little samey after a while. Laititia Sadierís vocal too, with that sub zero French accent that could make The Birdy Song sound cool, is the very model of understatement. But there are still more than enough musical diversions on this album to keep you engaged. Supah Jaianto for example (see what I mean about those song titles?) features a funky mid song break with pounding drums and tight stabs of brass. Elsewhere the epic Silver Sounds (Emperor Machine Mix)...all 10 minutes 21 seconds of it...sets off on a Krautrock highway to heaven using what could well be synths won from the Human League in a late night game of canasta. Here too there are changes of pace/gear though, with little flourishes (it almost goes Latin at one point) that make you sit up and take notice. Retro yet futuristic itís the sound of a band that still knows how to have fun, albeit with an arched eyebrow.

Fittingly the album ends with Neon Beanbag (Atlas Sound Mix) a driving dreamy drone featuring fractured female vocals punctuated with some wild oscillating background noise...wheeeohhhhahhhheeee. Itís wilfully obtuse. As leftfield as that field to the left of the field on the far left. And, if it really is the last thing that ever comes out of the Ďlab, I can think of no finer epitaph. Cool. "

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Sep 09, 2010, 02:47


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