Artist: Various Artists
Title: Stellate 3
Label: Stroboscopic Artefacts – Stellate Series
Cat. #: SASTE003
Format: Vinyl, Digital
Release Date: September 20th 2012
A1 Kangding Ray – Antar
A2 Kangding Ray – Telur
B1 NSI – Unexpected
B2 NSI – Undeserved
C1 Xhin – Them
C2 Xhin – As It Unfolds
D1 Reformed Faction – Hollerei LX
D2 Reformed Faction – Koaii Twin
Gathering sounds from the experimental frontiers and outer edges of electronic music, Stellate 3 collects together Kangding Ray, NSI, Xhin and Reformed Faction’s visions. The polished tracks are layered to the -nth degree, filled with minute details and whispered asides. These productions use an array of analogue machines and the most cunning digital means to vividly render disquieting questions.
Kangding Ray – fresh from releasing his chapter of the Monad Series – opens Stellate 3 with ‘Antar’. The atmosphere is loaded; it pulls you back and makes you slow down in order to listen with your every fibre. Built around a cyclical structure, it sways slowly, moving in a way that borders something mystical. Kangding Ray seems to tap into liminal spaces, those places where comparisons fall short and adjectives fail. Despite the slow pace and languid mood, ‘Antar’ is underpinned by an urgency that spills over into ‘Telur’. Constructed with both a different pace and with an angular architectural structure ‘Telur’ is an unsettling landscape of strange glitches and noises.
NSI’s ‘Unexpected’ and ‘Unsettling’ further this pondering, questioning mood. ‘Unexpected’ bursts into being; it’s a seven minute odyssey which seems to have departed from a 1960s space station. Littered with the surprises of the track’s namesake, perhaps the biggest of all is that such an optimistic portrayal of the future seems to be hallmarked by the past. ‘Undeserved’ is rung-in by far-off bells which signal the beginning of a synthesised Mass. Punctuated with mutated percussion, altered piano sounds and a litany of noises, the construction that emerges is a confounding and quite brilliant.
When Xhin lays down ‘Them’, he pushes the pronoun until it embodies the idea the unknown. It’s a track with a warped atmosphere where something’s most definitely awry. It’s a vinyl you’d be tempted to play backwards. Just to be sure.
‘As It Unfolds’ counterpoints this and is a wistful, ecstatically melancholy piano composition. It charts sadness as viewed from a later point in time. It’s a reflection on the process of understanding, on sifting though yesterday with a sense of collected calm.
Reformed Faction close Stellate 3 with two tracks that are a testament to their prolific analogue experiments.
There is an unmistakable curiosity at play on ‘Hollerei LX’, which vividly soundtracks a film that has only even been seen in the mind’s eye. Almost as if Reformed Faction is somehow privy to the secrets that lie curled within undeveloped rolls of film, ‘Hollerei LX’ is a visual experiment expressed through sound. ‘Koaii Twin’ is just as synaesthetic, and listening brings forth a tattered stream of imagery, a barrage of half-made connections and things better left forgotten. ‘Koaii Twin’ is probably best listened to with the lights on.
The Stellate Series is boxed exquisitely in a round metallic tin which contains two clear 10” vinyls. Each vinyl is separated by a typographic print on recycled paper. The Stellate releases also contain a hand-numbered artwork inlay by Oblivious Artefacts. The entire artwork comprises of four parts which are divided between Stellate 1 through to Stellate 4. Additionally each release contains a unique card with a download code. Each Stellate release is a strictly limited edition of 300. The entire Stellate Series was craftily mastered in Berlin by Artefacts Mastering.
Words: Clare Molloy