By now introducing Stereo Total may be unnecessary. The German/French Duo, comprising of Françoise Cactus and Brezel Göring, have been playing underground electropop songs since the mid‐90s – and that not just in a French accent, but also in several languages. Most recently they have released a Stereo Total‐Special‐Quebec‐CD („Carte Postale De Montréal“), as well as a “Best Of” album in Spanish (“No Controles“). Their last regular album, “Paris ↔ Berlin,” came out in 2007 on Disko B and Kill Rock Stars (US).
Now comes their newest record. The name: “Baby Ouh!”. The look: “hysterical glamour”. The sound: playful, experimental. The Lyrics: R’n’R’: Romantic and Rebellious. Stereo Total recorded a total of 40 songs for this album. So as not to strain your nerves too far, only 17 will appear on the album. Also included are a few cover versions of Stereo Total’s idols (e.g. Brigitte Fontaine from France and Pedro Almodóvar from Spain). Additionally, many guest musicians contributed. However, this is no vehicle for dropping famous names from radio and television, rather they are friends of the band – real Superstars in the Warholian sense: Gina d’Orio (Cobra Killer), Vice Cooler (Hawnay Troof), Miss le Bomb, Becky Ofek (Boy from Brazil), Can “Khan“ Oral, Anton (Die Dreipunktbande), Albrecht Kühner (Das Barock‐ Orchester), Irma and Lou Schiller (“Der Kinderchor”/”The Childrens Choir”) – their mother gave them permission – and still more star guests. Sometimes the guests sing only a single word (Divines Handtasche), sometimes a mad accidental harmony (La Barbe À Papa), and then sometimes they scream like a banshee (Babyboom). Still to especially highlight is “Das Original Oberkreuzberger Nasenflöten Orchester” (“The Original Upper Kreuzberg Nose Flute Orchestra”), who have been damaging their listeners with tinnitus‐style extreme tones since 1992.
A R’n’R’Album: Romantic and Rebellious
The Record “Baby Ouh!” is an attempt to record exactly the music that Stereo Total would like to hear on the radio themselves. Lyrics that are anarchistic, lewd, poetic in an overwrought way, sometimes very sad and sometimes very silly; accompanied by music that is played with flea market instruments, recorded on to cassettes, and with its LoFi attitude, generally regards the penultimate technical developments as the best. Stereo Total, who for nearly the last 10 years have been constantly touring around the world – with tours in Japan, Australia, North and South American and Europe – have always tried to solve musical, technical and marketing problems with ideas rather than with major label money and recording studio technique. They bring out their records on several independent labels worldwide, in different languages, are perceived and classified in almost every country differently, and travel with a minimum of rock band equipment, no matter if they are playing in rock clubs or at 3am at a rave. During the years in which a “Live act” could be understood as a Karaoke show with a laptop and a microphone, the sight of the duo Stereo Total with drums, guitars and a mini‐sampler was fairly unusual. Their live concept is very direct and simple: 1, 2, 3, 4 and let’s go. The result is very excessive and wild shows that have a lot to do with Françoise Cactus’ Rock’n’Roll background with The Lolitas.
Cultivate the Incorrect
It is very difficult to carry these special Stereo Total live events over to a record. Therefore the band tried to record the songs for the record “Baby Ouh!” with an “unproduced rawness”. Songs like ‚Divines Handtasche’, ‚No Controles’, ‚I Wanna Be A Mama’, ‚Babyboom – ohne mich’, ‚Wenn ich ein Junge wär’ or the title track “Baby Ouh!” are the attempts to cultivate the irregular or incorrect way of playing of a concert situation. The intention is to escape the ultra‐ manipulated world of computers and to do unusual things with very simple means.
Is this new album really new?
“Well!“ One recognizes the Stereo Total sound immediately. But, here there are more love songs than on Stereo Total albums, even when they are, at times, coldly executed, like in “Alaska” or “Larmes de métal“ (“Metal Tears”). On the other hand, this cool attitude melts away with the song “Baby Ouh!”. On the album a few icons are also honored or made fun of: Divine, Andy Warhol… The songs are short, reduced to the minimum (if one abstracts from “Bip‐Bip‐Music”). Despite their frivolity and flippancy, Stereo Total understand themselves as a political band, that would like to abolish all borders and champion the liberation of all women all over the world. They see themselves as a model: Would you like to become a musician? Do it! What characterizes Stereo Total is their self‐will. They throw only a bored gaze to fashions, trends, and MTV preferences. They try to make music that they would like to hear. On the other hand, they never voluntarily listen to their own records after they have been released: What’s over is over! No future is our future! Aber Du, do it!
What have Stereo Total actually done since the release of their last record – aside from extensive touring?
Alongside various publications abroad, they set the film “Nekromantik” by Jörg Buttgereit to new music live and played compositions at the Kurt Weill Festival in Dessau. Françoise Cactus has had several exhibitions of paintings and has, with her crocheted portraits of female musicians, further refined her feminist‐dadaist‐Wollita‐scandal‐art approach. Additionally, in the meantime her life‐sized crochet puppet, Wollita, has twice awarded the “Wollita Art Prize.” Brezel Göring, meanwhile, has been further straddling the extremes between high‐ and subculture: highcultural with his electronic improvisations together with the Elbipolis Barockorchester and subcultural with the publication of the punk/electropunk bands Robotron and Dreipunktbande on his record label “Verboten in Deutschland” (“Forbidden in Germany”).