In some ways, it sounds like business as usual, with Margerine Rock and opening track Vonal Declosion chugging away in an inimitably 'Lab-ish fashion, which is to say that they suggest the best of the Velvet Underground played by Sergio Mendez on a Moog keyboard.
Mc Lachlan's vision of vulnerable, long-suffering womanhood no longer works in a land where the likes of Dido, Beth Orton and Atomic Kitten are either pumping out messages of cool self-sufficiency or looking forward to a good night out.Even on Train Wreck, the one song where Mc Lachlan lets the rhythm track get funky, she paints herself as an emotional casualty, "a train wreck waiting to happen".On most of the others she sounds more like a church service waiting to start. Robert Sandall Jaimeson Think on Your Feet, V2, £12.99The professional alias of north London-based writer/producer Jamie Williams might not seem all that familiar, but the first four tracks of Jaimeson's debut album will be instantly recognisable to anyone who listens to pop radio.This is the work of Moby operating under a pseudonym, presumably in order not to alarm his mass-market audience with what he describes as an "underground dance record".The chrome-domed techno wizard became a household name by welding light computer beats to the organic sounds of old blues songs, creating something futuristic yet timeless.
Advertisers who made the Moby sound ubiquitous are less likely to find anything here to sell their wares.Apparently inspired by a night at an illegal rave in Glasgow, this is a return to Moby's dancefloor roots, an instrumental album of wobbly synths and thumping drum machines.The problem is that this music is essentially environmental, its effect aided by lights, bodies, huge sound systems and (more often than not) copious amounts of drugs and alcohol.When Stereolab co-vocalist Mary Hansen was killed in a cycling accident in 2002, it was hard to imagine how the London-based francophone band would respond to the tragedy.Would they split up, leaving behind a catalogue of idiosyncratic avant-garde pop that occasionally reached a peak of chart-brushing accessibility? They took the latter route, building a studio in France and turning over a few new musical leaves.Stereolab's long-term association with experimental Chicago producers John Mc Entire and Jim O'Rourke ends here, with a deliciously clean-sounding, reflective and moving collection of songs, all dedicated to Hansen.