I was listening to the four tracks on the Hologram Teen EP and, mostly as the music is the work of former Stereolab keyboardist Morgan Lhote, I not only found myself recalling how much I liked Stereolab, right from the very first time I heard “French Disko“, but also wondering exactly what kind of band Stereolab actually were. Already retro-obsessed and coolly ironic about it when they first appeared in about 1994 or thereabouts, they still seem a determinedly awkward bunch. Balancing sophistication with eccentric humour, sometimes impressively inspired and with a seemingly endless supply of surreal song titles, Stereolab now seem even more difficult to quantify than during their actual career. Morgan Lhote was one of them between 1995 and 2001, and with this limited edition piece of vinyl and its cartoon imagery, Hologram Teen appear poised to continue with the indie ethos that Stereolab were sometime masters of.
Of the four tracks, only “Hex These Rules” seems to really hark back to the trademark Stereolab sound, and with its combination of sampled vocals and club-level basslines, Hologram Teen’s unabashed retro enthusiasm contains too much in the way of musical detail to fit the description of ‘minimalism’ and is just a little too elegant to make it as dancefloor fillers, as determinedly awkward as Stereolab continually proved themselves. The vinyl release contains two tracks – the title-track and “Hex These Rules”, and the download four, with the addition of “Scratches En Series” and “Franmaster Glash”, each of these tracks evoking the classic synth sounds of not that long ago, subtly referencing any number of electro-pop luminaries, from Add N To X, to Moby, to Air and to other more or less well known likeminded artists.
Lhote herself quotes a number of influences on her music, some of whom are more widely known than others – Yello, Steely Dan, Etienne De Crecy and Don Armando’s Second Avenue Rhumba Band, to name but four. Crucially, Jarvis Cocker gets a namecheck as a noted admirer of Hologram Teen, Pulp being one band whom Stereolab could comfortably share a stage with. Both Laetitia Sadier and Tim Gane are also continuing to make music elsewhere, and while any collaboration between them seems unlikely at present, the electronic meanderings of Hologram Teen share the ideas of purpose, energy and musical sleight of hand that made Stereolab one of the best bands of the ’90s and ’00s.