We typically come to Stroboscopic Artefacts for deep, heady techno, and Stellate, the label's newest series, looks at first blush to be collecting tracks from some of their aesthetic's finest proponents. But crack open the set's gorgeous packaging and place one of its two 10-inches on the platter and prepare to have your expectations shattered: none of the eight tracks on offer from Lucy, Borful Tang, Perc and Kevin Gorman—two inclusions each—bears much of a resemblance to the powerful techno tunes you might expect. Borful Tang aside, these guys generally make beats, but for Stellate 1, they flesh out the experimentation lurking just beneath their usual deep kicks and steely atmospherics. Self-assured and strangely cohesive for such a far-reaching compilation, it'll make you wonder what other tricks these four have up their sleeves.
Lucy kicks things off with two brief, mournful etudes that exude a childlike sense of exploration with sound; Borful Tang's flipside sound collages seem similarly emboldened by the freedom to make noise, though his excursions take on a palpably sinister tinge.
But it's Perc and Kevin Gorman—two supposed techno partisans—who end up stealing the show. On "Paris" and its bleaker counterpart "Molineux," Perc weaves decaying memories into Leyland Kirby-like swells that make for surprisingly tuneful compositions. Gorman's "Frequency Phase" series in three parts delivers on the back of the collection's most highly conceptual music: in a nod to Alvin Lucier, a straightforward and acoustic phrase is played through a delay line again and again. As the processing eats the tune alive (or, in the case of the George Bush-sampling "Frequency Phase Part 2," a sample claws its way up from the abyss), it produces tones more gorgeous than the sum of its parts. Stellate 1 reveals there's more to contemporary techno's leading lights than even their fine beat-driven accomplishments as heretofore suggested. Rather than succumb to a gimmick, the set thoroughly justifies its existence.
Tracklist: Various Artists - Stellate #1A1 Lucy - Estragon
A2 Lucy - Vladimir
B3 Borful Tang - Meet The Band
B4 Borful Tang - The Seduction Ends In Tears
C5 Perc - Paris
C6 Perc - Molineux
D7 Kevin Gorman - Frequency Phase Part I,II
D8 Kevin Gorman - Frequency Phase Part III