VA: Stellate 2
Stroboscopic Artefacts

Following up a debut installment that featured label boss Lucy, Perc, Kevin Gorman, and Borful Tang, Stellate 02 once again presents experimental tracks by four different producers. Enhancing the physical release's appeal is its presentation, with two transparent, ten-inch blue vinyl records arriving in a round tin (300 copies available). Each of the four production teams gets two tracks, a move that naturally gives Stellate 02 ample stylistic contrast.

Up first, Dadub (Daniele Antezza and Giovanni Conti) establishes the release's experimental vibe with “Endless,” a lulling, Porter Ricks-styled exercise in billowing textural expansion that grows ever more threatening as its looping swirls swell into seething ripples. Less harrowing by comparison, “Refraction” unspools in a fractal stream of chiming synths and burbling sequencer patterns that places Dadub in firm lockstep with the current crop of synthesizer revivalists. Side B takes a post-punk electronic turn when Silent Servant (Juan Mendez) and Luis Farfan join forces for “La Negra Luna,” a take-no-prisoners exercise in harsh industrial soundscaping dominated by portentous percussive strikes, shattering noise accents, and a garbled vocal loop. Their other track, “No Te Debia Amar,” is more accessible, though its wavering bass throb and brooding voiceover exude their own fair share of metallic menace.

“Ritenuto,” the first of two piano-based tracks by Roll The Dice duo Malcolm Pardon and Peder Mannerfelt, comes as a welcome relief after such heaviosity, even if its low-pitched piano accents convey no shortage of ominous foreboding. That brief opening salvo sets the stage for the rollicking “Bad Tempered,” which likewise gets underway with insistent piano patterns and a quasi-techno rhythm generated by tapping on the piano's wooden structure. The release's densest constructions arrive last courtesy of Plaster, an electronic music project born in Rome in 2008 and featuring Gianclaudio Hashem Moniri and Giuseppe Carlini. A deep exercise in electronic moodscaping, “Udis” (the ancient people of the Caucasus) presents a multi-layered array of windswept textures and rolling beat patterns, while “Seber” takes the textural richness quotient to an even further degree in its whirlwind of exotic strings and synth smears.

By now it should be obvious that anyone coming to the release expecting to hear Stroboscopic Artefacts' distinctive future-techno will be disappointed, as most of the material is beats-free and more naturally characterized as experimental set-pieces. The Stellate series should be seen, then, as a side-project for the Italian label and a venture that reveals the label's interest in presenting itself as something more than a techno label, strictly speaking.

July-August 2012