Stereolab are an English-French avant-pop band formed in London in 1990. Led by the songwriting team of Tim Gane and Lætitia Sadier, the group’s music combines influences from krautrock, lounge and 1960s pop music, often incorporating a repetitive motorik beat with heavy use of vintage electronic keyboards and female vocals sung in English and French. On stage, they play in a more feedback-driven and guitar-oriented style. The band also draw from funk, jazz and Brazilian music, and were one of the first artists to be dubbed “post-rock”. They are regarded among the most innovative and influential groups of the 1990s.
Vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and sonic visionary Angel Deradoorian has never shied away from testing aural and conceptual boundaries in her work. On her last album, The Expanding Flower Planet, Deradoorian led listeners through a kaleidoscopic journey that explored new rhythmic ideas culled from ancient traditions. Yet her latest album, the entrancing and seismic Eternal Recurrence, is unlike anything she’s ever recorded. The stark album, which predominantly features Deradoorian’s riveting vocals co-mingling with a handful of instruments, is a testament to an artist who found new depths both within herself and in her process through allowing herself to be driven entirely by instinct.
Right before The Expanding Flower Planet was released in 2015, Deradoorian decamped to Big Sur for a formative ten days and began crafting what would become Eternal Recurrence, out October 6, 2017 on Anticon. She then completed the album with co-producer Ben Greenberg after a move to a remote upstate New York town in 2016. The extremities of the California region—where mountain meets sea and life comingles with death—reverberates on “Mountainside,” a texturally lush tune about learning to feel comfort in being alone, and mourning the dissolution of a certain kind of love.
Fittingly, Eternal Recurrence, brims with meditative affirmations that mimic cycles, planetary and otherwise. The collection of songs are woven together by structurally abstract “thoughts in sound,” as Deradoorian puts it. It breathes through drones, synthesizers and vocal acrobatics peripherally inspired by the music of Alice Coltrane, Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry. The stirring songs comprising Eternal Recurrence also probe an uninhibited form of expression, particularly within the warbles of “Love Arise” and the watery underworld of emotion on the instrumental piece “Ausar Temple.”
At times the process was a struggle, because it involved reckoning with the past and resisting the present in order to rebuild herself for the future. Many realizations came into sharp focus from those isolated times, like the song “Mirrorman,” a stark near-limerick and deft study in intervals. The reflective song circles the theme of individuation—specifically, the idea of becoming holistic by honoring both the feminine and masculine elements we each carry within us. Meanwhile “Return-Transcend,” the eight-minute opus on the album, is an affirmation of both being one with the universe and at peace with the unknown.
Honoring and extending gratitude towards friends, and their individual strengths, became crucial to constructing Eternal Recurrence, as well. Deradoorian wrote the entrancing vocal harmonies of “Nia In the Dark” for a friend, the Los Angeles-based musician Nia Andrews. “We had these conversations where she’s never really felt seen in certain ways, and I know a lot of people don’t feel seen,” Deradoorian explains. “But they do so much and they inspire so many people around them. So it’s kind of talking about like, ‘You may not be seen by all, but these are all the things I see in you, and I see what you’re doing and how you affect everyone and you’re such an important thread in people’s lives.”
The transcendent “Love Arise,” which opens Eternal Recurrence, was also written as an ode to a friend, Nai Palm of Hiatus Kaiyote. Yet the meditative song—in which Deradoorian sings “love’s the only thing keeping me alive—also functions as a kind of underlying thesis for Eternal Recurrence, an album whose wonders unfurl further with every listen. “It is an affirmation of calling in love when you’re alone and afraid, essentially,” Deradoorian says. “Or just freaking out, and calming yourself down and remembering why you live and what you live for. And for me, it’s love.”