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Casiopunk art-pop outfit NinetyNine began as the solo project of Laura Macfarlane, who had previously played drums in Seattle indie rock band Sleater-Kinney, where she was credited as Lora MacFarlane. Though based in Melbourne, NinetyNine have toured the world extensively and have won even more fans in far-off places like Finland than they have at home. Macfarlane played all of the instruments on the first self-titled NinetyNine album released in 1996. Afterwards, she recruited several fellow multi-instrumentalists to form a more typical band, albeit one in which the individual members would sometimes switch instruments between or even during their songs. The first of these were Rhonda Simmonds and Cameron Potts, who joined in 1997. That year they recorded a second album, 767, with Simmonds on bass; Potts and Macfarlane sharing drums, vibraphone, and their trademark Casiotone keyboards; and Macfarlane on guitars, vocals, and xylophone.
Afterwards, Simmonds left to join Origami and Iain McIntyre joined in her stead. This lineup recorded the 2000 album 180 Degrees. McIntyre did not stay long either, however, and was soon replaced by Amy Clarke for 2002's The Process, which saw NinetyNine heading into a professional recording studio for the first time in the band's career. That year also saw the release of a compilation of rarities called Anatomy of Distance. For their 2003 EP, Receiving the Sounds of Science Fiction, they tried a different method of distribution. It was initially made available only through the Dark Beloved Cloud singles club, based in New York. To join, purchasers had to design artwork by hand to be used as the cover for copies given to other members of the club. Amy Clarke left the band and was replaced by Meg Butler in 2006, when they released another album: Worlds of Space, Worlds of Population, Worlds of Robots.