Something Shines Past Dots and Loops
Nigh on a year ago I wrote a brief piece on some of my favorite live music experiences. The autumnal concert given by Stereolab—in 1997, at Launchpad—made the list. Continental post-pop modernism laden with situationist lyrical pronouncements wasn’t exactly my cup o’ tea back then. Ween’s The Mollusk came out that summer; I was still trying to wrap my head around the first half of that stuff when Stereolab made their appearance here.
The performance by Sadier, Tim Gane, Mary Hansen and Andy Ramsay certainly altered my musical path. Stereolab lead me away from virtuosic, self-referential rocanrol pastiche, into a world of music I hardly knew. It was seriously complex tuneage, elusive in tone and style, lacking the fundamental snark of many American bands living on the edge as the millennium approached. I was fascinated.
I went out and purchased copies of Emperor Tomato Ketchup and Dots and Loops. I wore those two records out and only briefly considered abandoning them when a student in my Fundamentals of Musicology class overheard me listening to “The Flower Called Nowhere.” She memorably remarked her parents were listening to that album at home, “like all the time dude.” I ignored the comment and dug deeper, picking up copies of Mars Audiac Quintet and Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements in the process.
Flash-forward nearly twenty years; Stereolab is on indefinite hiatus after a ground breaking and sometimes heartbreaking career. But Sadier, whose lyrics continue to revolve around the revolutionary process of self-discovery, soldiers on. The artist has fashioned a solo sound that eschews the pre-Ibiza electro-formalism of her former ensemble for a heart-felt approach that incorporates organic instrumentation, acoustic interventions and a focus on the human voice as a path to musical awareness.
Her latest work, Something Shines is indicative of this evolution away from the sometimes sterile yet subtly engaging work of Stereolab. In pieces such as “Quantum Soup” and “The Scene of the Lie,” Sadier continues to embrace a proclivity for syncopation but adds sumptuous melodicism and languidly dream-like vocal flourishes to her creations. The result is provocative and knowing, with just a hint of what came before threaded through the all-seeing eye of now.
Sadier’s serene Sunday recital at Sister is a 21+ affair that begins at 8pm. Admission to this intuitively bright business is just $10. For a sawbuck, it’s a prime opportunity to put aside “The Golden Eel” for something somewhat shinier and purposefully profound. (August March)