The Other People Place
Lifestyles Of The Laptop Cafe


4.0
excellent

Review

by danielsfrebirth USER (27 Reviews)
April 7th, 2015 | 17 replies


Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist

Review Summary: One of Detroit techno's great full-lengths, James Stinson's Lifestyles Of The Laptop Cafe is a simple, sweet album about the acceptance of technology.

Lifestyles Of The Laptop Cafe sits dead on the border between science fiction and reality. For decades, Detroit techno had fostered elaborate myths about robo-centric futures and subaquatic cultures. But in 2001, when James Stinson of the pioneering Drexciya released his solo debut Lifestyles Of The Laptop Cafe as The Other People Place, the Internet age was coming into sharp focus. The future became easier to predict, and Stinson responded to it with a simple, sweet record about the acceptance of technology. He died a year later.

Many albums made under such circumstances--Janis Joplin's Pearl, John Lennon's Double Fantasy--take on a portentous aura. Stinson would no doubt be pleased to know Lifestyles avoids this. This is a perpetually optimistic album, a reminder that universal human truths can still exist amid the incalculable pace of technological development: love, sex, happiness, sadness. The album cover's intriguing contrast of a laptop with a lush forest floor, as well as Stinson's invocation of the most animalistic form of relaxation on "Sunrays," even gives hope to humankind's relationship with nature.

Lifestyles has an unusually limited sound palate for an electronic album. Drums, bass, a "lead" synth, a "rhythm synth," and Stinson's vocals are the only sounds on any given track. Small sounds go a long way; the lonesome chords on "You Said You Want Me" only surface occasionally but absolutely make the song. This gives the album a striking intimacy, as if Stinson were sitting in front of a few session musicians, each with their own synth. The lethargy of Stinson's voice only adds to this effect; it's easy to imagine him leaning back in a chair, microphone in his face. Call it An Evening With James Stinson.

The album's first track, "Eye Contact," finds Stinson monologuing about spying an attractive girl in a cafe, presumably the Laptop Cafe. With the arc of the ensuing song titles and corresponding hooks ("It's Your Love," "You Said You Want Me," "Let Me Be Me," finally "Running From Love") it'd be easy to interpret the album as a romantic saga set against the backdrop the Internet age. But the album is called Lifestyles--plural--and in this context, Stinson's intonations feel more like snippets of the physical, individual lives of the others in the cafe, all of them caught in their own turbulent lives and transferring bits of them to data.

Stinson's are reminiscent of texts, tweets, Facebook messages, anywhere the complexities of waking life bunch up into short bursts of digital information. They're a reminder to the Luddites among us that technology is often more of a help to humanity than a competitor. The warmth and sweetness of this album, conjured with only a few synths and a laconic voice, only proves this point.



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user ratings (26)
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Hyperion1001
Emeritus
April 7th 2015


19985 Comments


this looks great, you said you want me was awesome

definitely gonna check out.

Let
April 7th 2015


1734 Comments


I love you. Will read in a sec
Edit: Nice review for a fantastic release, any plans on reviewing Drexcian releases?

Digging: Burial - Tunes 2011 to 2019

Yotimi
April 8th 2015


7543 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good album

scissorlocked
April 8th 2015


3528 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

classic album here



nice review dude

MotokoKusanagi
April 8th 2015


2397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this album slaps, "you said you want me" is my go to

Zeneren
March 1st 2017


1070 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hadn't heard of this before the repress on Warp Records.



Wonderful album that is sure to grow even further.

Chortles
April 4th 2017


21457 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

wowee the production on this is immaculate

Ryus
March 21st 2019


18121 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

outstanding

MotokoKusanagi
March 29th 2019


2397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i've always liked this on some level (see my comment up above from 2015) but this really clicked for me yesterday while i was finishing up some stuff for work. what a beautiful album, great example of doing minimalist techno/house the right way

relax your mind, slowly unwind. catch some rays of the sunshineee

Ryus
March 29th 2019


18121 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

forreal, there are some goat-level bangers on this one

Chortles
March 29th 2019


21457 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

not that it isn't all top-tier but it's all about that mid section. Moonlight Rendezvous is amazing

Ryus
March 29th 2019


18121 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

and let me be me



that bass groove is godly

parksungjoon
March 29th 2019


9584 Comments


woah this is made by half of drexciya? how the fuck have i never heard of this

jesus

parksungjoon
March 29th 2019


9584 Comments


wow let me be is mental

Ryus
October 28th 2019


18121 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this shit is nearly flawless

MotokoKusanagi
October 28th 2019


2397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

mood

Ryus
October 28th 2019


18121 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

the first five tunes are all classics, particularly midnight rendezvous and let me be me



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