Stereolab – Lo Boob Oscillator

15th February 2024 · Uncategorised

I wonder what genre, what category, Stereolab are put in in record shops. Come to that, I wonder whether there are still record shops; but if there are, where would their records be placed? (Apart from somewhere between Steps and Stereo MCs). 

Their hypnotic rhythms, bubbling behind Laetitia Sadier’s mesmerising vocals – usually, as here, sung in her native French – suggest krautrock and their mellow sound has hints of jazz-flavoured lounge music.

But they are not really either of those.

One of their first releases was an EP titled The Group Played ‘Space-Age Bachelor Pad Music’ so perhaps that’s the best term to use, but their titles were always playful: their first single was, after all, called Stunning Debut Album.

Apparently this song – Lo Boob Oscillator – is featured in a TV ad at the moment, though I can’t say I’ve heard it; nor do I remember it in High Fidelity, where it apparently also appeared.

Its genius is the way it progresses smoothly and serenely for nearly four minutes before shifting gears and turning into a droney motorik dirge that’s not just hypnotic but trance-inducing.

I have to admit Stereolab passed me by when they emerged in the early ’90s, a couple – Tim Gane and Laetitia Sadier – appropriating unfashionable ’60s styles (bossa nova, lounge pop, film soundtracks) and merging them with the repetitive motorik rhythms of krautrock

It was the titles that caught my attention more than the music, which I failed to explore: Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements, Refried Ectoplasm, Emperor Tomato Ketchup and Music For The Amorphous Body Centre all appealed; not just to me but to hip-hop artists who began sampling their sounds.

The quirky titles kept coming – Cobra And Phases Group Play Voltage In The Milky Night springs to mind, as does the shorter but equally strange Margerine Eclipse – and so did the music, which I feel I should start to explore. In the meantime…