The best places to listen to the songs on the Stereo Total album, Stereo Total
By Horace French

You've just bought the latest, greatest album from your favorite internacional popstar. But here comes trouble! Where will you listen to it? You don't want to be listening to a great album in a context that might spoil everything. With the post-post modern pop album, the location of the listener is as important as what he or she is listening to. What good is a great song if the surroundings are not optimized? Thanks to the internet, the jet plane, and portable music machines, it has never been easier to find the proper context for your fave internacional smash hits.

Stereo Total are from Berlin, and the scene there is nothing if not context-specific.  And it's brilliant. Never in my life have felt a city as alive, as festering, as rife with hidden delights and unseen pleasures as Berlin this summer and early fall. Although my stay there was brief, I felt as if I had entered a wholly new novel to live inside. The Stereo Total album was a small but important part of the experience, and now that I am back in the states it's possible to transpose this experience elsewhere. I have compiled, track by track, what I believe to be the best places to listen to the fine songs on this pastiche of an album...if you disagree, or have other ideas that I may have neglected, email me>


1. Dactylo Rock This song should be listened to only while drowning your sorrows in some decent red wine at a small cafe in Berlin. You are alone in the cafe, save a lone barman and his waitress/wife. They feel an almost parental disdain for you. A cold rain beats against the windows and you wonder when things are going to start looking up. The Hawaii-guitar sound and the halting German vocals ensure that they will, someday.

2. C'est Le Mort This track should be listened to when driving over a colossal bridge in a new car, preferably a citroen. Some friends are with you, there's no work or school or anything on anyone's mind, and a large city is just coming into view. You contemplate driving off the edge just for kicks, but then someone hands you the champagne bottle and you do a small dance with your shoulders as you hit the gas. Someone sings along "woo hoo hoo hoo"

3. Futore This one is perfect for the moment that you arrive in a dark, dimly lit rock club. The band you came to see isn't on yet, and a small man gives you a hard look.

4. Schon von hinten This song is meant for the moment you realize that nothing you do in life will ever matter to anyone, anyway. And this makes you happy.

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5. Movie Star This track might be good as the music over the credits of a fairly mediocre independent film.

6. LA, CA, USA You know how some songs sound better in a different place than the place the song describes? Well this isn't one of those songs. PCH, 1:30 Saturday, convertible, Corona with lime.

7. Get Down Tonight This is the song you have waiting in your car CD player on the way to a house party somewhere far away. Everyone gets in, you slyly press play, at first there's confusion, then recognition, then laughter, then the party begins...It's the small things in the this cover of the Disco classic that make it so sweet, such as the way this singer pronounced the "tt" in "little" when she says "do a little dance."

8. Comme un garcon Tying your shoes one morning, distantly in the background.

9. Ach Ach Liebling This is one to listen to in your walkman on your way to the Doctor's office, which you must reach by a combination of subway, bus, and cab.

10. Push It In between two songs you like on a good mixtape.

11. Miau miau It's best not to listen to this one anywhere, unless you're just drunk enough and the singer keeps checking you out.

12. Supergirl This is a perfect song to listen to on the way to your new Japanese publicist's magnificent apartment in Tokyo to begin your new life as an ultra-cute Japanese Pop-star for the new millenium. The driver of your Mercedes will be sullen, yet strangely protective.

13. Ushilo sugata ga kilei This song can only be listened to early in the morning, after a terrible night of drugs and debauchery in a part of the city you've never been to before. It must be heard on a borrowed discman while you're slumped in the corner of some strange house as dawn's pale light stretches through a tiny window.

14. Johnny This track sound optimal as you wait for a mysterious new friend to return from the bathroom in one of the larger train stations in the Basque Country.

15. Morose This track can be listened to anywhere without consequence, but is probably best on a Sunday because of the lilting guitars and melancholy vocals.

16. Dilidam This track, with it's sing-song song-sing and simple rhythm is good for a new morning where you greet the neighbors in a foreign tongue. They are vaguely amused.

17. Je suis venu te dire que je m'en vais The joy divisionesque bassline with the Gainsbourg vocals make this track only suitable for long nights at home alone.

Berlin, oh Berlin. I know I'll be back. But until then there's always Stereo Total.

USOUNDS ||  1.4.99

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