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Kyberneticka Babicka - EP

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Album Review

In September 2005, Stereolab simultaneously issued three new 7" singles — instead of an accompanying CD collection, the group instead assembled all six tracks as a digital EP, available for download. The two-part "Kyberneticka Babicka" is connect-the-dots Stereolab — complete with hallmarks like spiraling micro-melodies, bubbling Moogs, hopscotching rhythms, and harmonies as thick and sugary as cake frosting; the record is so rote it veers into self-parody. Much better is "Plastic Mile," which returns to the effervescent and elegant squiggle pop Stereolab perfected circa the Fluorescences EP — less about reinventing the wheel than returning to the womb, the song is all pastel colors and soft edges, proving yet again that no other band has better understood or articulated the gravitas of weightlessness. "Interlock" captures Stereolab at its most soulful, with a bracing introduction suggesting the Motown sound dipped in white chocolate. You'll never mistake Laetitia Sadier for Martha Reeves, of course, but rarely has the group made music quite so playful and upbeat — and like so many Motown classics, the buoyant melody masks harsh social critique, with Sadier posing the musical question, "What good is all this knowledge we've acquired in the face of deep nihilism?" And the closing "Visionary Road Maps" serves up squelchy disco grooves that gradually disintegrate like aging celluloid liquefying in a projector.


Formed: 1991 in London, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Combining an inclination for melodic '60s pop with an art rock aesthetic borrowed from Krautrock bands like Faust and Neu!, Stereolab were one of the most influential alternative bands of the '90s. Led by Tim Gane and Laetitia Sadier, Stereolab either legitimized forms of music that were on the fringe of rock, or brought attention to strands of pop music -- bossa nova, lounge-pop, movie soundtracks -- that were traditionally banished from the rock lineage. The group's trademark sound -- a droning,...
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