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Stereolab: Dots and Loops

I bought a used CD copy of this album at least ten years ago on the strength of something I'd read about it. I think I only played it once, wasn't especially taken with the sound, and never got back to it until recently, when I put it in the CD player of my car and left it there for several weeks. I think I heard it all at least three times, but in fragments, not really listening closely. 

It grew on me. It's an odd record in some ways. I'm calling it ambient pop: it falls basically into the general pop-rock category, but it also fits Brian Eno's definition of ambient music: "Ambient music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting." 

Dots and Loops is fairly static and repetitive, and can easily be put into the background, yet it has enough interesting touches to make listening closely enjoyable. The sound begins with a '60s pop vibe, especially the bossa-nova pop of, for instance, Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66. And when I say "pop" I mean to distinguish it from rock: it's a soft, melodic, often jazzy but not in the least bluesy sound, with gentle female vocals. It has a nostalgic quality, if you remember that time, or maybe "retro" if you don't. The group released an album called Space Age Bachelor Pad Music in 1993--which is interesting, because the members were at most infants when that sort of thing was new. But there are also a lot of...I was about to say "21st-century," or "contemporary," sounds, but the album was released in 1997, making it over 20 years old. 

Many of the compositions aren't really even songs, exactly, and though the vocals are a major part of the album's appeal, the lyrics are few and not that important. "The Flower Called Nowhere" is maybe the most fully-developed song as such, so not the most typical for the album, but the overall sound is very similar throughout.

It would be nice to hear this album while sitting by a swimming pool sipping some cold drink, maybe something with a little paper umbrella on it.

Comments

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I'll have to give this a listen. I've heard a bit about them off and on over the years but I don't think I've ever actually listened to them.

This music is pretty cool, Mac!

I'm slightly surprised to hear you say that. Doesn't seem like your cup of tea especially. But if you like this song you'd probably like the whole album. Nice accompaniment for a martini or g&t. :-)

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