When they attempt a 'groove', it's utterly sexless cod-funk, and when they collapse into cacophony it's so conservative it sounds like free jazz as played by [B]LIGHTHOUSE FAMILY[/B] session musici

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London Highbury Garage

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London Highbury Garage

Hanging out with [a]Stereolab[/a] can do frightening things to a man. But at least, until now, SEAN O’HAGAN still appeared to be singing love songs rather than ‘droobs’ about dialectical materialism (I made that word up to be futuristic and clever. Yes!).

But tonight, to celebrate the new remix album, ‘Lollo Rosso’, we are entertained by a specially augmented HIGH LLAMAS ‘groop’ (that’s how it will be spelt by the year 2000, you know), featuring spacerock supremo JIM O’ROURKE on a real live ’60s Moogalator 3000 Wankotron.

This adds a new dimension to what once were simple, heartfelt pop tunes – a deeply unnecessary, cripplingly pretentious load of space noise which makes at least half the set sound like the theme from Crossroads with the robots from the ‘For Mash Get Smash’ adverts on background instrumental duties.

There’s always been a RANDY NEWMAN On Prozac element to their music, but this is unbearable. They simply don’t have sufficient imagination to do anything with the xylophones, stylophones, mongophones and that-frequency-that-used-to-torture-Captain-Kirk-and-make-the-screen-go-funny-on-Star-Trek-ophones, beyond wanking all over their own perfectly good songs. This is a PhD-in-kitsch idea of music, the kind of indulgent tosh these former punks were meant to wipe out. It doesn’t hit you on any level except a mild stroke on the chin. There’s nothing wrong with experimentation, but for fuck’s sake, spare us this hollow idea of radicalism and try doing it from the heart. Instead, when they attempt a ‘groove’, it’s utterly sexless cod-funk, and when they collapse into cacophony it’s so conservative it sounds like free jazz as played by LIGHTHOUSE FAMILY session musicians.

‘High’ Llamas? Christ, pass the crack pipe, mother.