Switched On Vol.5: Pulse Of The Early Brain

Duophonic Uhf Disks • 2022

Stereolab is one of those bands that are just there, doing their thing, without ever receiving much attention. Yet the Brits have been at it since 1990 – and are referenced in a novel by Austrian author Thomas Glavinic in German-language pop culture. And yes, it doesn’t get any bigger than that. But it’s good that Stereolab are already cataloguing their own work: On the fifth part of »Switched On« they release the rest of their rare recordings and songs that didn’t make it onto their normal albums. For example, there are two tracks with Nurse With Wound, which appeared on a joint EP in 1997. Or the second half of »Nomus Et Phusis« from an EP from the year 2000 – slipped in here under the name »Unity Purity Occasional«. Stereolab don’t arrange the tracks in chronological order. Rather, »Pulse of the Early Brain« yields a work all of its own. Something that never feels like an album in its own right, but that is definitely more than just a compilation. Avant-pop, in other words, with a sprinkling of post-rock or indie rock here and there. Time travel through eras that appear completely alien in the guise of the Stereolab sound. (Next reference after these 16 songs: Yo La Tengo. Just not quite as harmonious.) Only the mix on »Refractions In The Plastic Pulse« by Autechre stands out. And sounds just as great as it reads. In any case, as custodians of their own creation, Stereolab continue to do a very good job. That won’t bring them a new audience. But it will make their established fan base more than happy.