Stereolab may have hung up their hats in 2009, but their motorik pulse and utopian spirit live on in founder Tim Gane's new project Cavern of Anti-Matter. The project also features original Stereolab drummer Joe Dilworth, who played on Peng!, and Holger Zapf, a synthesizer player whose resumé includes a stint in Jan Jelinek's Ursula Bogner ensemble. They released their debut album, the out-of-print Blood Drums, in 2013, but Void Beats / Invocation Trex feels in some ways like a proper debut, taking the tones and drones of that release and sculpting them into mesmerizing and thrilling pieces.
Stereolab's DNA is recognizable from the very first beat: The record's opening song, Tardis Cymbals, begins with a ringing E chord that longtime fans may initially mistake for the opening notes of Mars Audiac Quintet's Nihilist Assault Group (or, for that matter, Three-Dee Melodie or Transona Five or Anamorphose—Gane clearly loves his E chords). Krautrock rhythms abound: In Tardis Cymbals it's a burbly pinging in a surprisingly natural-sounding 7/8 time, while Melody in High Feedback Tones slips into a brighter and more aerated groove, its clean-toned guitar strum and quicksilver pulse given extra shape by the faint squelch tugging at its edges. The distorted organs of Insect Fear lend it a garage-rock feel that flashes back to the Transient Random-Noise Bursts era, while the swinging Echolalia recalls Stereolab's '60s fascinations. And the album's period instruments—including Farfisa and Vox organs, Clavinet, and analog synths like the EMS VCS 3 and Korg MS20—contribute to the recurring sense of sonic déjà vu.
But those callbacks—natural enough, given the personnel—are just a small patch of the ground the trio covers here. Blowing My Nose Under Close Observation avails itself of electro's whipcrack syncopations. Pantechnicon plays winsome Kraftwerkian melodies against rolling, techno-inspired rhythms. The unifying element is the loose, jammy feeling to everything: It's easy to imagine these pieces, three of which extend beyond nine minutes, being worked out in the studio in just one or two takes, even with their many moving pieces and their counterintuitive dodges and feints. -- PITCHFORK
1. Tardis Cymbals
2. Blowing My Nose Under Close Observation
3. Insect Fear
4. Melody In High Feedback Tones
5. Hi-Hats Bring The Hiss
6. Liquid Gate
8. Black Glass Actions
9. Planetary Folklore
11. Void Beat
12. Zone Null