GROOP EFFORT

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Fab Four Suture
Label: Too Pure/Beggars Group
Rated: NONE
WorkNameSort: Fab Four Suture

Stereolab approaches everything with a multifaceted attack. Just as they settle on no one genre, they settle on no one format. Fab Four Suture consists of three previously released 7-inch singles; the remaining six tracks are also being issued as singles in conjunction with the release of this full-length CD, which is also available as a double 10-inch vinyl record. (And this is an outfit that rails against consumerism every now and then.)

So, while this is not considered the "proper" follow-up to 2004's Margerine Eclipse – that's scheduled for 2007 release – it reflects the modus operandi of the group as well as any of their official releases. This is a group that is all about defying expectations.

Keep in mind that when the group debuted in 1992, the genres they were exploring – lounge and French pop, bossa-nova, touches of Krautrock – were extremely marginal and not widely disseminated, even among the indie elite. And while they were able to posit themselves as a worthy alternative to the breast-beating guitar-bred grunge of the time, it was as an elusive, artsy collective who named their albums with a sense of mystique and intrigue. The title of their second album, Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements, was almost truth in advertising.

Fab Four Suture begins and ends with a mesmeric, minimalist loop, "Kyberneticka Babicka Parts I and II," that sets the scene for the breezy Henry-Mancini-on-acid pop that follows. For hard-core music fans, it's a game of spotting references and admiring the kitchen-sink/melting-pot results: prog-rock for the ADHD crowd. For the average listener, it might sound baroque and bizarre. For example, "Eye of the Volcano" meshes a vaguely Celtic, Vashti BunyanÐtype melody with the band's naval horns and jittery, swooping keyboards that swerve into what sounds like a demonstration of early '80s synthesizers. "Get a Shot of the Refrigerator" swirls with the Technicolor groove of a lightweight French film score as it trips itself up with multiple time signatures. "Whisper Patch" chugs along with a doomsday whimsy that sounds like sunlight pouring through a ripped shade.

Stereolab exists in an alternate universe where Magical Mystery Tour (the movie) didn't suck and where psychedelia never gets old.

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