Stereolab Not Music on 2LP
2010's Not Music marked the ﬁrst album from Stereolab since they announced their hiatus in the Spring 2009. Yes, they were on hiatus but still released a new double album – shades of the 1990s, when each season was inevitably greeted with another new Stereolab LP, EP, 7" single, split record, compilation track, cereal box record or what have you. Back then, you might just expect for Stereolab to be reaching to you through the curtain of mortality!
The latter-day Stereolab traveled more sedately, producing only four new singles, three EPs, four compilation albums and three all new LPs since the turn of the millennium. No wonder they went on hiatus – they were falling asleep moving at such a slow pace! The twelfth album in an infamous career, Not Music is part of Tim Gane's 2007 science experiment involving improvised chord sequences played on piano or vibraphone, over top of which were placed little drum loops. This was a new way of writing and it yielded a bumper crop of "compositions," nearly seventy of which were boiled down into thirty-two new songs, fourteen of which were cherry-picked to form Chemical Chords.
Not Music features eleven more songs cut from this same futuristic material. Beyond their genesis, the albums have a shared focus: "Pop Molecules," and "Two Finger Symphony" have at least titular antecedents on Chemical Chords and both "Silver Sands" and "Neon Beanbag" appear in remixed versions (courtesy of Emperor Machine and Atlas Sound, respectively). While still tautly played and tightly focused, Not Music is more varied than Chemical Chords, brimming with drums, classic O'Hagan pop-brass and string arrangements and a diversity of strong lead and background performances from Laetitia Sadier. A plethora of fresh sounds abound.
Not Music represents a perfect microcosm for Stereolab. Their hiatus is a sort of limbo, locating them truly somewhere between the past and the future. Where is it? It's not now, but it is Not Music.