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Stereolab
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Stereolab

Stereolab are a British-based band whose style, mixing 1950s-1960s pop and lounge music with the "motorik" beat of krautrock, was one of the first to which the term "post-rock" was applied. They are noted for the use of vintage keyboard instruments like Moog synthesizers and Vox and Farfisa organs. They are often referred to as "The Groop" by their fans.

They were founded in 1990 by songwriters Tim Gane (guitar, keyboards), formerly of the band McCarthy, and Lætitia Sadier; (sometimes credited as Seaya Sadier; vocals, keyboards, trombone, guitar), who is from France and sings in both English and French. By 1992 they had recruited the band's other core members, Mary Hansen (vocals, guitar) and Andy Ramsay (drums). Hansen was killed in a cycling accident on December 9, 2002. Other members have come and (in some cases) gone over the years: Martin Kean, Duncan Brown, Richard Harrison and Simon Johns (all bass); Joe Dilworth (drums); Gina Morris (vocals); Sean O'Hagan (keyboards, guitar); Katharine Gifford and Morgane Lhote (both on keyboards).

Early Stereolab material characteristically relied on droning, repetitive guitar or keyboard riffs, with or without vocals. As the band developed, they incorporated new instrumentation, and an increasingly complex sense of rhythm and structure. The drum playing anchors each song in place with a steady and driving groove. Unusual for western music, two-part vocal harmonies are often separated by the interval of a fourth (thirds or sixths being more usual). The usage of Moog synthesizers also gives the band's music a sort of retro feel, roughly akin to The Doors.

Lyrically, Stereolab's music is quirky (song titles evoke memories of 1950's science fiction stories, but have nothing to do with the song's content), but highly politically and philosophically charged, sometimes with a decidedly Marxist bent. The song "Bop Scotch", off the album Margerine Eclipse, for example, can be interpreted as a direct attack on the contemporary policies of the United States.

Despite the band's fanbase and critical acclaim, Stereolab has not achieved high levels of financial or popular success. On June 7, 2004, the Warner Music label announced they were dropping Stereolab in response to the poor sales (40,000 to that date) of Margerine Eclipse. This was part of an ongoing effort by Warner to cut costs; The Breeders and Third Eye Blind were also dropped from the label for this reason.

Discography

The "Switched On" albums are compilations of material previously released on singles and EPs.

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