STEREOLAB with QUASI at the Phoenix (410 Sherbourne), Sunday (November 4) at 6 pm. $18 advance, $20 door. 416-870-8000. Rating: NNNNN
Artists' listening tastes usually offer some interesting insights into the music they make. So if you want to get a better understanding of how Stereolab's new Sound-Dust (Elektra/Warner) took shape, it stands to reason that knowing the sort of records that idea man Tim Gane has been bidding for online at e-Bay could be very enlightening.
Listening to the elaborately orchestrated Sound-Dust, it's apparent that he's moved on from the kraut-rock, electronic and musique concrète records that inspired early Stereolab work.
His live-in accomplice, Laetitia Sadier, confirms that Gane's Moog kick is a thing of the past.
"He still buys a lot of stuff on e-Bay," sighs Sadier from a stop in Denver. "There was a period not too long ago when he went e-Bay crazy, and every day we would get something new in the post.
"They aren't Moog records -- he'd got all of those he needed ages ago. He's been tapping into the modern classical stuff lately, like Messiaen, Stravinsky, Ligetti and some weirder things that I find difficult to listen to. But Tim is happy to play them for hours on end."
While a case could be made that György Ligetti's trance-inducing minimalism has had some effect on Stereolab's evolution, there are no telltale giveaways on Sound-Dust. However, the unusual references to ants and moths in the song titles are more significant than they might at first seem.
"As always, Tim had some funny ideas when we started making the album. One of them was to do something like the sound of insects when they're all together making an orchestrated racket. I think Tim was particularly inspired by Messiaen, who tried to translate the sound of singing birds into music.
"The working titles we had for the songs on the new album were all insect-related -- Black Ants, Space Moths and Moon Flies -- and that's how they're written out on the set lists each night. I still don't know the real name of that Moon Flies song."