Home » Stereolab’s Homage to a Trailblazing Space-Age Pop Musician

Stereolab’s Homage to a Trailblazing Space-Age Pop Musician

After French musician Lætitia Sadier crossed paths with Tim Gane from the British band McCarthy, their connection blossomed into a relationship, and shortly thereafter, a band was born – Stereolab. This musical endeavor took flight in 1991 with the release of their first EP, Super 45, after recruiting additional members.

In the subsequent year, Stereolab unveiled their debut album, Peng!, securing the sixth spot on the UK Independent Charts. Over the decades that followed, Stereolab explored krautrock, indie pop, psychedelia, and space-age pop through various EPs and albums, characterized by a timeless quality, with Sadier seamlessly shifting between French and English lyrics.

Their renowned album, Emperor Tomato Ketchup, emerged in 1996, featuring tracks like ‘Metronomic Underground’ and ‘Cybele’s Reverie’, the latter earning a place on the UK Singles Chart. Stereolab, often considered an underrated yet immensely innovative ’90s band, has since cultivated a dedicated following.

Drawing inspiration from The Beach Boys, 1960s synth artists, and diverse philosophers, Stereolab stands apart from conventional indie outfits. Their fascination with cosmic sounds is evident in early works like the 1993 EP Space Age Bachelor Pad Music. The subsequent year saw the release of Mars Audiac Quintet, prominently showcasing otherworldly synths.

Within this album lies the track ‘International Colouring Contest’, paying homage to the eccentric musician Lucia Pamela, renowned for her album Into Outer Space with Lucia Pamela. Recorded in 1969, the same year humans landed on the moon, Pamela genuinely believed her album was recorded there too. Featuring songs like ‘Walking on the Moon’ and ‘In the Year 2,000!!!’, the album narrates Pamela’s fictional visit to the moon.

Playing all the instruments herself, Pamela’s album is characterized by sci-fi synths, pianos, various percussion, and reed instruments, creating a sound reminiscent of vaudeville performances. While Pamela’s album may not be considered technically impeccable, its child-like enthusiasm for space travel makes it an iconic piece of musical history, especially during the space race era.

To honor this quirky musician, Stereolab incorporated a snippet of Pamela’s voice at the beginning of ‘International Colouring Contest’, where she laughs and says, “I’m so full of ideas! Here’s a good one…” Sadier then sings, “Into outer space with Lucia Pamela/ The moon is the place where there’s space for Lucia” and “Before Armstrong took his steps/ She’d been there with friends/ They took all instruments and/ Recorded on the moon.”

The song takes its name from the coloring book Pamela created called Into Outer Space with Lucia Pamela in the Year 2000. Starting in 1969, Pamela initiated an international coloring contest, and Stereolab reminds us, “For your entry, she’s waiting.” Sadly, Pamela passed away in 2002, marking the end of the competition.

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