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Baker's Dozen

Parallel Worlds: Peter Strickland's Favourite Albums
Colm McAuliffe , June 3rd, 2014 13:03

On the occasion of the Berberian Sound Studio and Katalin Varga director releasing Wasp Boutique, a collaboration between Art-Errorist and Zsolt Sőrés, on his record label, and with a new feature film on the way, he sits down with Colm McAuliffe to talk 13 formative favourites


Stereolab - Refried Ectoplasm: Switched on Volume 2
Too many great albums to choose from. Transient Random Noise Bursts With Announcements, Cobra And Phases Group Play Voltage In The Milky Night and Music For The Amorphous Body Study Center came very close, but Refried Ectoplasm is probably the one that I delve into the most. OK, it's not officially an album, but Stereolab didn't come across as an album-centric band and often produced their most stunning music in other contexts and this compilation proves it. They were probably the most important band for me not just in terms of their music, but also their influences and the bands they nurtured through their Duophonic Super 45s label. Their working method was fastidious and incredibly inspiring. There wasn't this bombastic need to make a statement with each album or to go bigger. As with Sonic Youth, they could put out an album on a major, but concurrently contribute a track or two to a bedroom label and often you could find their best work hidden in a giveaway track or B-side. Stereolab were not just a band, they were a world, which encompassed their music, visuals, influences as well as the bands they gave exposure to such as Broadcast, Clearspot, Tortoise and Labradford. I got into so much music through Stereolab. They were ahead of their time in terms of their love for both easy listening and krautrock. It's still stunning how they combined all these polar influences into one cohesive whole that felt entirely new and visionary. I love the sound on Refried Ectoplasm. It has this grinding, relentless quality and throws a different light on chords and riffs you think you've heard before, such as Faust's 'It's A Rainy Day', 'Sunshine Girl', the Velvets' 'Sister Ray' or Suicide's 'Cheree'. But there is no great need to key into all that, as it works on its own terms.

It was a big deal every time something new by Stereolab came out and it's worth remembering that all this took place in the shadows of Britpop. I think Refried Ectoplasm was released in the summer of 1995 when that nauseating Blur vs Oasis media stunt dominated even the BBC news. Worth noting how Refried Ectoplasm still sounds sublime and 'Country House' and 'Roll With It' still sound rubbish.