By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
Emperor Tomato Ketchup--Stereolab's latest and best CD--is one of those rare works that makes you wonder what its creators will be capable of next. The album is all about suggestion, hinting that every idea is worth exploring, any sound can be incorporated, and genre cross-pollination is not a taboo but a necessity. The group's kaleidoscopic world is seamless, engaging, and has everything to do with charisma and lack of contrivance. You can recognize some of the bits and pieces that go into the Stereolab mosaic, but the whole is uniquely the group's own.
Stereolab opens up new plateaus of (subtle) funkiness with "Metronomic Underground," as well as with the strangely brewing "Percolator" with its bubbling bass line. "Les Yper-Sound" is French '60s flower pop with the band Can providing the backbeat, whereas "OLV26" finds the members of Stereolab riding with the top down along Kraftwerk's Autobahn. The eerie, sentimental "Monstre Sacre" sees them dipping into a deep emotional well, while the ending "Anonymous Collective" is a somber electronic mantra, Sadier repeating the phrase "You and me are molded by things well beyond our acknowledgment"--pardon her English.
After having traveled so many unmapped pop territories, it seems that Stereolab's next logical destination will be the bright side of the moon.
Stereolab plays Trees Friday, November 1.