In proximity to all their gloriously conceptualized full-length albums, Refried Ectoplasm is surely an odd one, a motley collection of singles and rare tracks, each a miniature by a band whose career has been built on experiments that typically took a whole CD to flesh out. Refried, though, far exceeds the totality of its parts. The singles are distinct, and so not terribly obvious as cogs in a machine, but they're also almost flawless. Stereolab's keyboard colors are all over the place, lighting up "Lo Boob Oscillator," and Laetitia Sadier's droney, airy vocals seem ever in contrast to the music. A guitar-rich, even-rhythm universe prevails across these tracks, giving Refried a slow-burn fever that rings equally with grit and sonically playful quirks. It might be a collection of musical short stories in comparison to their sometimes weirdly epic novels, but it's in French and it's arty and squiggly. And by comparison, again, to their more keyboardy moments (of which there are many elsewhere in the band's catalog), this is a sonic tractor. --Andrew Bartlett
NR (Not Rated)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
REFRIED ECTOPLASM is fantastic and propulsive, with the "motorik" Krautrock beat and French pop vocals that won't quit. This is high energy optimistic stuff -- simple Situationist garage-pop from 1968, perfect for dancing in that commune on the barricades. I think it's what Stereolab does best. Track 9, "Animal or Vegetable" is a long psychedelic jam that breaks up the flow in an interesting way, and "John Cage Bubblegum" is, indeed, a great pop song that in another dimension conquered the charts. Fascinating that a retro sound can sound more futuristic than the latest thing...
I don't like the turn Stereolab's music took after EMPEROR TOMATO KETCHUP ('96), starting with DOTS AND LOOPS ('97). My favorites are MARS AUDIAC QUINTET ('94) and this one, REFRIED ECTOPLASM ('95), with strong songs, beats and melodies. For more abstraction, I'll listen to avant jazz/improv or contemporary classical.
(verified purchase from Zia Records in Tucson)
A wonderful mix of Stereolab's most minimal and melodic stuff. More than any other older album, this collection of b-sides and rarities goes the furthest in anticipating what they have started to do with their last two albums. And let's not forget the Marxism! Really, I can't think of a better album of theirs that will let you in on all the various threads that run throughout their music. Some lengthy tracks, some short ones, instrumentals, some singing in French. Where is the lift, the hope and the struggle? Right here.
This collection of earlier Stereolab recordings is well worth getting for any of its tracks. But most notably it includes the remarkable track John Cage Bubblegum (impossible to get from any other reasonable source) which is the best showcase for the poppier/noisier side of Stereolab, that the band ever recorded. Wonderful, invigorating listening.
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