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Various Artists – Stellate 1 review

Just when you thought that it was settling into a discernible path, Lucy’s label surprises again with the launch of the Stellate series. Available in metallic tins as well as in digital formats, it marks another fresh approach from the Berlin-based label. Whereas SA’s main modus operandi had focused on dub-influenced electronic music as well as the broken beat/abstract approach on its Monad series and album projects, Stellate heralds a new chapter in the label’s evolution. The compilation sees SA go ambient with a small a. If you’re looking for whale mating sounds set to sonic bleeps then this collection is likely to disappoint, but if you have a yearning for something more than the pounding austerity of contemporary techno, then Stellate is for you.

Newcomer Borful Tang delivers the eerie soundscapes of “The Seduction Ends In Tears”, where half-heard vocals unfold over dark textures, while Kevin Gorman’s contributions are redolent of Eno and Swans sharing studio space. “Frequency Phase 1 & 2″ see the UK producer deliver gamelan-like plinky plonk keys and gradually phase in half-heard vocals. These elements become gradually louder, more repetitive and intense until eventually they break down and the listener is presented with George W Bush talking about “the empire of oppression”. By contrast, “Frequency Phase 3” is a beautiful piece of mood music, with sensuous, sorrowful strings and rich but melancholic woodwind cosying up together. Darker moods and tones are audible on Lucy’s “Estragon”, an austere synth passage with references to Throbbing Gristle and Coil, but the label owner cheers up with “Vladimir”, where dreamy, space-age synth sounds prevail. However, the mood darkens again with Perc’s tracks. “Paris” is full of tense, terse effects and strange bumps from the night, but “Molineux” is even creepier, its plunging horror-inducing chords coming across like the backing to a long lost instalment from the Hammer House of Horror movie series. It makes for a gruesome end to a stellar collection of sounds.

Richard Brophy


1. Estragon – Lucy
2. Vladimir – Lucy
3. Meet The Band – Borful Tang
4. The Seduction Ends in Tears – Borful Tang
5. Paris – Perc
6. Molineaux – Perc
7. Frequency Phase Parts I & II – Kevin Gorman
8. Frequency Part III – Kevin Gorman