Stereolab - Instant 0 In The Universe
After tragically losing band member Mary Hanson in a cycling accident in 2002, Stereolab return to their trademark sound in the form of maxi-EP Instant 0 in the Universe, a five track taster of their new album release in early 2004.
There are many musical influences one can throw into the mix when describing Stereolab, ranging from Nico-era Velvet Underground to Francoise Hardy backed by a Moog synthesizer orchestra or Lemon Jelly. Their releases have often been a post-modern cut and paste of a wide variety of differing genres.
Judging by the strong form displayed on Instant 0 in the Universe, Stereolab appear to have somehow created a mini-album that fuses electronica, jazzy pan-European vocals and stomping cinematic grooves. Certain riffs crop up throughout the five tracks that are repeated later, and on many occasions a particular track will abruptly throw itself stylistically into something completely different.
The majority of vocals are performed by Laetitia Sadier, and there is a distinct seventies vibe in her delivery to such an extent that this album could be described as a twenty-first-century take on Astrud Gilberto With Stanley Turrentine, even with the modernised Deodato style arrangements. Sadier’s husband Tim Gane is the driving force behind the band, and he revealed that many of the backing tracks for the five songs on Instant 0 In The Universe were compiled from various unused loops and samples of their previous albums. In essence, this has helped the mini-album to be a revisionist guide through Stereolab’s past discography.
Each song seems to develop along a consistent postmodernist formula, with an introduction of quaint arrangements often forcefully interrupted by a pounding electronic riff. This is lounge cocktail jazz for the space age; as if someone has sent Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 into orbit performing to art chic crowds every night. You can’t argue that this isn’t the aim of their sound, considering that this is the first work that Stereolab have produced themselves since Emperor Tomato Ketchup. It’s hard to pick a standout track, although "…Suddenly Stars" is the only cut to also be included on 2004’s Margerine Eclipse album, but that doesn’t mean it’s any better than the other four tracks on show. As a taster of the forthcoming album, Instant 0 In The Universe is a brilliant blitz throughout practically every later-twentieth century genre, and should be purchased considering its low RRP.