Wednesday, February 17, 2010

don't sleep on this

i can think of several examples of me sleeping on particularly awesome music suggestions from trustworthy friends. it's almost a skill set at this point. embarrassing examples include record-store-buddy mike giving me a gb-worth of stones bootlegs, and me not sifting through them for 2 years. i mean....i liked the stones---but i totally slept on the fact that they're unequivocally the best rock and roll band of all time. around the same time, i obtained a copy of Stereolab's 2nd album, Transient-Random Noise Bursts with Announcements. whether i was bewildered by the album title (admittedly; i still am), or thrown off by its thin, late 80s/early 90s production (i slept on the first Stone Roses LP for the same reason) just didn't register. accelerate to light-speed and fast-forward 3 years...

note: i don't accept for inclusion any post-Some Girls albums

...during this time, my love for kraut (introduced through CAN and Faust) and most things drone (Last Visible Dog-issued stuff, Landing, Fennesz...) had grown immeasurably. i still dabbled in the avant-funk of Emperor Tomato Ketchup...and thus picked back up Transient... for a car trip.

first off, this is a record that needs to be played LOUD. in your car, windows down, so-you-can-feel-it loud. the drums lose some of their thin-ness, and make up for production value with their metronomic exactness. the jangly guitars become thick as tapestries, weaving around singer Lætitia Sadier's honey-deep voice, the oscillating hum of organs & synths, while beneath it all, the drums & bass do not just keep time, they ESTABLISH it. so few fills are present that their playing takes on an architectural aspect, rendering even the poppiest song on the record ("Pack Yr Romantic Mind") monolithic.

elsewhere, the standout, near-20-minute epic "Jenny Ondioline" takes the VU drumbeat and drives it into the ground over repeating vocal verses...till it fades & then returns in almost double-time. there is the syncopated, stabby, anthemic riff of "Crest", which keeps rising in a Moebius-fashion till it circles back upon itself, a locomotive of distortion enveloping the vocal melodies. Though the record ends a song later, "Crest" is the peak and pinnacle of the record's modus operandi; a swirling mass of scratched-up guitars, buzzing organs and synths, and the rhythm section with precision like a 'tussin-ed jackhammer.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the shout-out, homeslice. And you're totally right... I heard "Transient" my senior year of high school, and liked it a lot, but after I'd "absorbed" a lot of Krautrock (esp. the "Dusseldorf School", it was like a new album to me. My favorite Stereolab record, with 'Jenny Ondioline' being a summation of everything I like about the band - and I've never seen it reviewed more accurately.