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Cobra & Phases - song-specific thoughts
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meanchico
meanchico
2696 posts

Cobra & Phases - song-specific thoughts

I'm giving this album to a friend who is really into jazz. also quite political. I was going to just send the CD, but felt compelled to write a bit about the album and why I like it. I think it would be fun to include the opinions of seasoned fans as well. feel free to comment on one, a few or all of the songs. good times!

1.Fuses
2.People Do It All the Time
3.The Free Design
4.Blips, Drips and Strips
5.Italian Shoes Continuum
6.Infinity Girl
7.The Spiracles
8.Op Hop Detonation
9.Puncture in the Radax Permutation
10.Velvet Water
11.Blue Milk
12.Caleidoscopic Gaze
13.Strobo Acceleration
14.The Emergency Kisses
15.Come and Play in the Milky Night

Oct 08, 2013, 17:35


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Squirrel M. Nutter
890 posts

Re: Cobra & Phases - song-specific thoughts

15.Come and Play in the Milky Night

Just send this.

Oct 08, 2013, 17:52


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meanchico
meanchico
2696 posts

Re: Cobra & Phases - song-specific thoughts

I knew you would pipe up with some snark!

I'm sort of surprised to learn that you actually enjoy a track off it! a damn good one at that.

Oct 08, 2013, 17:56


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Stereo Mouse
Stereo Mouse
635 posts

Re: Cobra & Phases - song-specific thoughts

1. Fuses

If you send this to your jazz connoisseur friend, then perhaps this song is the only one that features any kind of sense of improvisation on it. Otherwise much of the album is more jazz-flavoured, seeing as it features certain kind of chords, certain kind of rhythms, even certain kinds of tone colours. Tell him that Tim Gane apparently had this idea that even if he was absorbing jazz influences, he still wanted to keep these more complicated ideas simple. Otherwise your pal may be expecting a bigger level of complexity than this album really musters.

2. People Do It All The Time

And if the first track manages to deceive, then surely enough this track should remind that Stereolab still had pop aspirations. And this kind of pop isn't actually a bad thing to aspire to.

3. Free Design

On the other hand, this is probably their most ill-informed choice for a single. Some other candidates would've probably been better. I'm thinking maybe tracks 2, 6, or possibly even 13. Or the b-side track "Escape Pod" (what an irony that "Escape Pod" is an additional track to a single like "Free Design").

I would've probably canned tracks 4, 7 and 12 from the album. It would've been a bit more reasonably timed album this way. However...

11. Blue Milk

Acquired taste (then again, so are the tracks I'd skip from the album), but count me in as another freak alongside Bradford Cox who admires this track. He's so crazy for it that he had Cavern of Anti-Matter to team up with Laetitia to perform this song in June at ATP (I think) festival.

14. Emergency Kisses

One of Stereolab's loveliest in this whole French chanson'y idiom, this would certainly sound like the most straight-ahead homage to Francoise Hardy, except that it diverts mid-way into what sounds like a minor-chord "Brakhage".

15. Come and Play in the Milky Night

One of the tunes Stereolab rarely bettered in live environment. This is where John McEntire manages to produce a song very well. It's just hauntingly beautiful and the arrangement comes off very well on the record.

Oct 08, 2013, 19:46


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s_lush_s
s_lush_s
7383 posts

Re: Cobra & Phases - song-specific thoughts

"Suffer the little children" is a bible phrase

Oct 09, 2013, 02:01


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jeff w
jeff w
684 posts

Re: Cobra & Phases - thoughts

Thank you for the opportunity to witter on. I haven't stuck to the brief: my contribution is a mixture of general comments on the LP and on individual songs. I'll include the former in this post and the latter in a separate post.

"This is the groop's most ambitious record. It's also bloody long. So listen to it in chunks. It was designed and sequenced for double vinyl, rather than CD, so you might want to listen to it with that in mind, especially early doors. My advice: listen to tracks 1-10. Stop. Take it off. Return to it tomorrow and cover 11-15. Otherwise, it’ll wear you down and you’ll fail to appreciate a lot of the beauty in the later songs.

Ambitious, why? From the musical perspective, it’s partly down to the breadth of collaborators. Jim O’Rourke (first time on board the good ship Stereolab) co-produces half the album, with John McEntire returning to steer the other half. Each bring their own influences (and sidemen) to the party, and with Sean O’Hagan given even freer rein than usual with his string and brass arrangements on the tracks recorded in London and Tim clearly in the mood to experiment, you’ve got a perfect storm of ideas. (One really great thing about the record though is there is no “cool filter”. Stereolab have always been magpies, and Tim’s borrowings from krautrock, Brazilian music, Steve Reich and the avant garde are well documented. Here though, OK, we've got some free jazz, some “Smile” sessions-era Beach Boys blah blah zzzz but there are also quotes from ABBA and even Yes in there – any record that steals from the two best tunesmiths in pop is OK by me.)

The experimentation doesn’t stop there though. Laetitia was into the aleatory literary technique of cut-up at the time (where you take a fully linear text and cut it in pieces with a few or single words on each piece, then rearrange the pieces into a new text). A lot of the lyrics reflect this technique."

Oct 09, 2013, 16:29


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jeff w
jeff w
684 posts

Re: Cobra & Phases - thoughts part 2

2. People Do It All The Time
One of the simpler songs, musically and lyrically. Tim & Laetitia had just had a son. I think L imagined this as a song for him. If I had one criticism of this album, it’s that the production on this song doesn’t quite work. I think they over cooked it here (whereas on most of the other tracks that’s scarcely possible).

4. Blips, Drips & Strips
Musically, a tribute to Emil Richards, circa his Stones LP. Only converting what he does into pop. Genius.

5. Italian Shoes Continuum
A good example of the “anything goes” philosophy. This is actually two songs, “Continuum” and “Italian Shoes” soldered together, with the join plainly showing. “Continuum” was actually a slightly older recording that had been abandoned, but then recycled for this album.

6. Infinity Girl
This is a scherzo. Honestly. It’s constructed exactly in the form of a classical scherzo and trio. Right down to the use of repeats in the first half and no repeats in the recapitulation.

9. Puncture in the Radax Permutation
Mary is given a rare opportunity to carry a song all by herself and steps up. <3 <3

12. Caleidoscopic Gaze
The song in which Stereolab perfects the multi-part song, which then became their stock in trade up until Chemical Chords, at which point they started to simplify again.

Oct 09, 2013, 16:30


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Stereo Mouse
Stereo Mouse
635 posts

Re: Cobra & Phases - thoughts

Care to point out where the Yes quote is heard? Must be from an album I have not heard as of yet, I'm familiar with Yes (1969), Fragile and Close to the Edge (the latter is probably my favourite of the lot).

I think Stereolab reached their maturity with multi-part composition on Sound Dust. "Spacemoth" and "Suggestion Diabolique" sound a bit more inventive than "Caleidoscopic", the latter being a bit too weird for weirdness' sake for my liking.

Oct 09, 2013, 18:44


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jeff w
jeff w
684 posts

Re: Cobra & Phases - thoughts

Stereo Mouse wrote:
Care to point out where the Yes quote is heard? Must be from an album I have not heard as of yet, I'm familiar with Yes (1969), Fragile and Close to the Edge (the latter is probably my favourite of the lot).

It's not note for note, but the ba ba bas in the 'Roaring inside her, woman and anger' section of "Caleidoscopic Gaze" is suspiciously similar to the middle section of "Starship Trooper" from The Yes Album (1971).

Stereo Mouse wrote:

I think Stereolab reached their maturity with multi-part composition on Sound Dust.

I wouldn't argue with this sentence. ;-)

Oct 09, 2013, 19:00


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meanchico
meanchico
2696 posts

Re: Cobra & Phases - thoughts

I loved reading this. it's so interesting to hear how other fans take in and interpret songs. I learn something new each time.

where is the ABBA quote?

Oct 09, 2013, 19:39

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