Stereolab: Dots and Loops LP
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September 2019 sees the continuation of Stereolab's seven album reissue campaign when 1996's Emperor Tomato Ketchup, 1997's Dots and Loops and 1999's Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night are reissued, via Warp Records and Duophonic UHF Disks, as expanded and re-mastered editions on triple vinyl. Each album has been re-mastered from the original 1/2" tapes by Bo Kondren at Calyx Mastering and overseen by Tim Gane. Bonus material will include alternate takes, 4 track demos and unreleased mixes. These reissues follow 1993's Transient Random Noise-Bursts With Announcements and 1994's Mars Audiac Quintet which received Expanded Editions earlier in 2019.
1997's Dots and Loops is Stereolab's fifth studio album and the first to completely ditch the motorik drone that had been a trademark since their inception. Predominated by lush lounge and jazz textures, it showcases the band's most complex set of rhythms yet. Stereolab is aided by members of The High Llamas (like-minded travelers in the production of whimsical '60s sounds), Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma of Mouse on Mars, and John McEntire of post-rock pioneers Tortoise. The album was recorded in Chicago and Düsseldorf and bridges a unique American-Euro influence.
The new rhythmic approach separates the LP from the band's previous output, as does a Beach Boys influence which adds to the band's standard brand. Bossa nova and '60s Euro pop are still major touchstones and give the album a deceptively light vibe; however, further listens reveal an elaborate work, with almost every track featuring odd time-signatures and more complicated and layered arrangements. "Parsec" is space-rock meets drum and bass; "Brakhage" marries a minor key bass line to clinking vibes and a shuffling beat; the segmented, 20-minute "Refractions in the Plastic Pulse" is sunny and appealing, yet intricately constructed. The dividing line between the band's first phase and what would be its more experimental latter period, Dots and Loops is the type of album that reveals its charms over many listens and is one Stereolab aficionados point to as among their best work!