From south London, Stereolab wear their John Cage and John Cale influences on their sleeves, but within a short time-span have amassed an impressive body of work.
The principal mover is Tim Gane, who was at first joined by his girlfriend Laetitia Sadier. Tim gave the band its name, after an obscure offshoot of 60s folk label Vanguard (it has also been stated that the title was taken from a hi-fi testing label).
The Groop Played "Space Age Batchelor Pad Music" (Original Mini LP) was released way back in March of 1993, with Duncan Brown joining on bass and ex- Microdisney guitarist Sean O'Hagan also guesting.
This set was the closest to ambient soundscapes, à la Martin Denny or Arthur Lyman, that they had yet come. 1996's excellent Emperor Tomato Ketchup (the title was taken from a Japanese cult movie) was another mix of melodies that crept under the skin.
It is almost irrelevant that many could not understand the French lyrics, such was the strength of the songs. Stereolab, active from 1990 to 2009 and now on indefinite hiatus, with all their influences, from the sparse sounds of Moondog to the gentle side of Nico 's Velvet Underground, remain hauntingly original and one of the most rewarding acts of the 90s.
Ever prolific, they released the dance-orientated Dots And Loops (read review here) in 1997, indicating a willingness to experiment with their established sound, which was followed up by an extensive list of well executed albums since then.
Wherever their influences took them, you always wanted to go along for the ride.