Stereolab / Dots And Loops
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Dots and Loops is Stereolab’s fifth studio album and the first to completely ditch the motorik drone that had been a trademark since their inception; predominated by lush lounge and jazz textures, it showcases the band’s most complex set of rhythms yet. Stereolab is aided by members of The High Llamas (like-minded travelers in the production of whimsical ’60s sounds), Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma of Mouse on Mars, and John McEntire of post-rock pioneers Tortoise. The album was recorded in Chicago and Düsseldorf and bridges a unique American-Euro influence. The new rhythmic approach separates Dots and Loops from the band’s previous output, as does a Beach Boys influence which adds to the band’s standard brand. Bossa Nova and ’60s Euro pop are still major touchstones and give the album a deceptively light vibe; however, further listens reveal an elaborate work, with almost every track featuring odd time-signatures and more complicated and layered arrangements. “Parsec” is space-rock meets drum and bass; “Brakhage” marries a minor key bass line to clinking vibes and a shuffling beat; the segmented, 20-minute “Refractions in the Plastic Pulse” is sunny and appealing, yet intricately constructed. The dividing line between the band’s first phase and what would be its more experimental latter period, Dots and Loops is the type of album that reveals its charms over many listens and is the one Stereolab aficionados point to as the band’s best work.