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Cobra & Phases - song-specific thoughts
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jeff w
jeff w
706 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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