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Reviewed this week: Stereolab, Siriusmo, and The High Llamas

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Thursday, May 05, 2011

Stereolab
Not Music
(Drag City)

Released a year after the band went on hiatus, Not Music is Stereolab's swan song, for now. Although the tracks date from the same sessions that generated 2008's Chemical Chords, this isn't some album of leftovers or also-rans. These first rate songs have been thoughtfully sequenced into a satisfying whole. The album inevitably shares its predecessor's bubbling Motown-meets-motorik rhythms, perky horns, buzzing synths and tightly wound song structures. However, the new tunes are slightly darker, edgier, and more skeletal. Most crucially, Not Music is anchored by two sprawling remixes, courtesy of Atlas Sound and Emperor Machine, that work some radical sonic variations and deconstructions. These remixes point the way toward a future that remains suspended. The album doesn't add up to any sort of career summation or grand finale. It's just another fine Stereolab record. —Jeff Jackson

*

Siriusmo
Mosaik
(Monkey Town)

A warning: not for the easily motion sick. Once your equilibrium has adjusted to a world that brings to mind blowing bubbles under water and feels like hours of roller coaster riding, you will find a mixed and varied set of tracks. Berlin producer Moritz Friedrich, better known as Siriusmo, has bottled the European electronica dance scene into 17 examples of remixed and remashed beats and grooves. Mosaik's work feels anachronistic at times, but is also a crisp example of the modern techno scene. The music is provocative and suprising—you never know when Siriusmo will drop one synth lead for the next. —Magdalene Nutter

*

The High Llamas
Talahomi Way
(Drag City)

Saccharine sweet and happy, Talahomi Way, the ninth studio album from the High Llamas, is a multi-layered blend of horns, strings, acoustic guitars, electronic noises and organ. The album doesn't have a melancholy note on it, which may be unsurprising for a band that formed in response to the dull, uniform grunge of the '90s. Despite its many layers, the album never feels too dense. Band founder and singer Sean O'Hagan's high, soft voice falls perfectly in the mix. The album gets slightly repetitive, rarely varying from the '50s pop-inspired groove that has dominated their sound since the 2000s, but the High Llamas' latest is well worth a listen. —Josh Ernst

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