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Two years after the death of guitarist Mary Hansen, Stereolab returns to S.F.

Wednesday, Mar 24 2004
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Stereolab is that rare band that transcends genre boundaries. The group has remained an influence on all sorts of cutting-edge music, from lounge and rock to experimental electronic and hip hop, and for the past seven years it's also retained the ability to tickle the fringes of the Billboard Top 200. This is due largely to Stereolab's tireless work ethic when it comes to touring, as well as its ability to create nothing short of a hypnotic dream world in performance, laying down intense walls of sound.

Of course, there's something that will be sorely missed at these shows, and that's Stereolab co-singer/guitarist Mary Hansen: In December 2002, Hansen was struck and killed while riding her bicycle in London. But her spiritual presence will no doubt be felt onstage as strongly as it is on the band's new full-length, Margerine Eclipse, the first album to be recorded without Hansen in nearly a decade. There's a definite sense of sadness on the record (and in lead singer Laetitia Sadier's voice) when it comes to remembering Hansen, to whom the effort is dedicated. "Feel and Triplet" has lyrics like, "As much as I don't want, I have to say goodbye/ You will sing forever like an angel who flew away." But there are also heavy hearts for the general dark days of our world, particularly on songs such as "La Demeure" and "The Man With 100 Cells," which question the blindness of modern-day human nature. It sounds as if the music has taken on a therapeutic role for the band, a quality that translates into a certain comfort for the listener.

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Tamara Palmer

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