Music Reviews
Instant 0 in the Universe EP

Stereolab Instant 0 in the Universe EP

(Duophonic) Buy it from Insound Rating - 3/10

Recently, on looking through his record collection, one of my friends expressed bewilderment as to why exactly he owned so many Stereolab records. He didn't need to explain further - I knew exactly what he meant. Never shy about releasing records and entirely unmindful of quality control, they were one of my favourite bands and a good percentage of my wage-cheque was regularly set aside for keeping up with them, until, one day, I had the revelation, 'ok, that's it, I own enough of their records now'. Since this revelation I have saved enough money to buy a three-bedroom house in Kent, complete with throne room and helicopter pad (ok, ok...I spent it all on CDs and fast living, but you get the point).

Part of the reason for my decision was that they had come under the unholy influence of John McEntire, a man entirely incapable of being involved in creating good records by anyone but his own group, Tortoise. The other reason is that, like The Fall, their adherence to a set formula is such that once you have half-a-dozen Stereolab albums, it's hard to find anything in their new releases that you don't have elsewhere, albeit in a slightly different form. The last time they truly made a vital record was Emperor Tomato Ketchup, although the collections Re-Fried Ectoplasm and Platinum Tunes are both virtually essential. Everything from the Dots and Loops album onwards (when they allowed post-rock to poison their pure pop formula) is re-heated leftovers, and Instant 0 in the Universe is no return to form, but, equally disappointingly, neither is it a radical departure from their previous work.

Like Broadcast, their hydrogen pop is, increasingly, all too often diluted by annoyingly wilful forays into what used to be considered avant-garde. It's a shame: I'd have thought that it would be obvious to most people by now that 99% of all avant-garde records are as generic and unsurprising as the swill regurgitated by the recent seventies rock revivalists. Put simply, this record is half as clever as it thinks it is, and utterly inessential.