De-luxe 2 LP expanded edition, remastered.
Named after 1971 film satirical film Tomato Kecchappu Kôtei, Emperor Tomato Ketchup was the follow-up to 1994’s Mars Audiac Quintet, an album that had been their most accessible to date. But all was not well in the Stereolab camp and it had become clear to Tim Gane and his bandmates that a change in approach was called for.
” ‘Mars Audiac Quintet’ had felt like as far as the group could take their formula of motorik rock and lounge-y avant-pop. For about a year, almost everything they tried seemed to be another creative dead end. Recording sessions had been a disaster. “It was bass and saxophone and drums playing nearly the same riff for eight minutes” remembered Gane, “the engineer was like, you’re going to sell three copies.” … “Like Remain In Light or Kid A, a change of approach opened up completely fresh pathways. It’s very easy to see how Stereolab could have become something that peaked with ‘French Disko’ or ‘Jenny Ondioline…’ – instead, Emperor Tomato Ketchup would be one of the few 1990s rock albums that could look its contemporaries in hip hop or electronica in the eye.” – The Quietus.
“The group certainly hasn’t backed away from pop melodies on Emperor Tomato Ketchup, but just as their hooks are becoming catchier, they bring in more avant-garde and experimental influences, as well. Consequently, the album is Stereolab’s most complex, multi-layered record. It lacks the raw, amateurish textures of their early singles, but the music is far more ambitious, melding electronic drones and singsong melodies with string sections, slight hip-hop and dub influences, and scores of interweaving counter melodies. Even when Stereolab appear to be creating a one-chord trance, there is a lot going on beneath the surface. Furthermore, the group’s love for easy listening and pop melodies means that the music never feels cold or inaccessible. In fact, pop singles like “Cybele’s Reverie” and “The Noise of Carpet” help ease listeners into the group’s more experimental tendencies. Because of all its textures, Emperor Tomato Ketchup isn’t as immediately accessible as Mars Audiac Quintet, but it is a rich, rewarding listen.” – Allmusic.