Friday, May 28, 2021

Stereolab - Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night (1999)


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There I am, watching a YouTube video about underrated albums, and of course, there's a lot in there that I disagree with. For instance, in what fantasy land is Darkness on the Edge of Town underrated? It's one of the most acclaimed albums by one of the most famous rock musicians of all time, and features at least 4-5 of Springsteen's signature songs. 

More relevant to this post, though, is the inclusion of Dots and Loops by Stereolab. EGREGIOUS. Everyone loves that record. If you're gonna talk about underrated Stereolab records, Cobra and Phases should be first on your list. It's maybe their most challenging, experimental record -- sonically layered to the point of impenetrability, full of awkwardly clipped grooves and angular melodies, and boasting an 11-minute drone-rock centerpiece that rides a single chord, in various forms, for its entire runtime. Essentially, Stereolab made their most Stereolab-y album, practically every critic took a big shit on it, and it's never really gotten a reassessment, even though it's a masterpiece imo.

Track listing:
1. Fuses
2. People Do It All the Time
3. The Free Design
4. Blips Drips and Strips
5. Italian Shoes Continuum
6. Infinity Girl
7. The Spiracles
8. Op Hop Detonation
9. Puncture in the Radak Permutation
10. Velvet Water
11. Blue Milk
12. Caleidoscopic Gaze
13. Strobo Acceleration
14. The Emergency Kisses
15. Come and Play in the Milky Night


Tonight I'm gonna make ornate indie rock like it's 1999:

19 comments:

  1. Agreed. And fuck anyone who says otherwise.

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  2. What the50footqueenie said. It's a bloody fantastic record and was the beginning of their best run of albums imo. Legend album!

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    1. 100% agreed. If forced to choose a favorite, it'd be between this and Sound-Dust.

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  3. Thanks for posting this underrated Stereolab album!!!
    Cheers

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  4. Hi do you by any chance have Kip Hanrahan – Coup De Tête (1981), thank you

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    1. I do, might make a post about it soon, but in the meantime:
      https://mega.nz/file/oTBBkAaS#FR6zIPYO9wdJjPDNa657Q2mCKt1D43JaTadiLtjVO9o

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    2. I always find amazing albums like this in the comments!!! Thank you!!! Shout out to bronx for bringing it up!!! -Britt

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  5. The reissue from 2019 extends "Blue Milk" to the 17-minute mark; a pure joy.

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    1. OH SHIT, I was unaware, can't wait to hear that!!

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    2. Jimmy gotta a little bit of Sterolab in himMay 31, 2021 at 2:11 PM

      Just listened to the longer version on Bandcamp. It is fucking sensational. I had no idea they'd done this. It's such a brilliant track, now with a new 4 minute intro. Sensational.

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  6. Once again, an incredible album that Pitchfork called "soulless" !

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    1. Those fuckers, of course they got in on the critical beatdown. I didn't read their review for Cobra and Phases, but the other day I was reading another one -- for Serene Velocity -- where they can't help but shit on this era AGAIN, calling it "routine" and "lifeless." Seriously, what the fuck were these ding-dongs listening to? And they call Emperor Tomato Ketchup "still their best record." Nothing against that album at all, I love it, but stating it like it's objective fact is SO obnoxious (which is why I always try to discuss music in terms of "my favorite" or "in my opinion" etc.) Stupid Pitchfork.

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    2. ahah, you really do hate them, don't you?

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    3. Yes and no. The sheer volume of music that they cover -- 4 new record reviews every day -- makes them a good resource for finding new music. And years ago, as a baby music nerd, their 'best of the decade' lists helped me get into some real classics. However, I do hate the space that they occupy in pop culture, in that their opinions seem to have more weight than any other publication. So it really grinds my gears when they pan an album that I think is great, because I know that literally thousands of people are gonna write it off based on one Pitchfork writer's opinion. And stating opinion as fact is something that almost all critics do, so that's not a Pitchfork-specific thing, but I still hate it.

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  7. More Stereolab Please! I am brand new to the group and started with 'Switched On' that you posted previously. I am Intrigued. Thanks for all the incredible music over the years! I've been tagging along for a little while now.

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    1. Jimmy gotta a little bit of Sterolab in himMay 31, 2021 at 1:57 PM

      Check out their page on Bandcamp - evrything is there. If you shell out a few quid who knows? Maybe they'll reform and produce new material.

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    2. Whoa, cool, I didn't know they put up a bandcamp! They managed to hold on to the rights to all of their music, that's dope

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  8. Jimmy gotta a little bit of Sterolab in himMay 31, 2021 at 2:20 PM

    A personal opinion is that this album is their creative peak. The albums after, whilst not bad at all, never really come close to this one. I did, fancifully (having no real idea of the relationship) wonder if this was the last album they made before their (Gane/Sadier) relationship came to its end.

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  9. Plus the free design and that video. perfect

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