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By Pete Strojny
Stereolab's sound is easy to identify with but much more difficult to classify. Their compositions borrow from a wide variety of styles that changes from song to song.
Their recent show at the Phoenix Hill Tavern was a good example of what the group is capable of. With a mellow Farfis organ and a solid rhythm section nested in a bed of electronics, droning chord progressions and some sustained psychedelic guitar licks, courtesy of Tim Gane, they turned the noise level up to high. Laetitia Sadier's seductive vocals were just what the mix needed.
The music is the strength of this band and they delivered that during a near-two hour performance. Their selections included some older material ("Super Electric," "French Disco") plus stuff from the new CD, Emperor Tomato Ketchup.
An extended version of "John Cage Bubblegum" had the house rocking for fifteen minutes and closed out the show with sonic waves of chiming guitar and electronic noise, much to the delight of the crowd.
The 'Lab has been touring and continent-hopping for most of the year, including stops in the United Kingdom, Europe, Japan and the US. Even with this grueling schedule, the band members signed CDs and chatted with fans after the show.