Since its inception in 2009, Stroboscopic Artefacts has done techno a little differently. Flagship artists like Xhin, Dadub and label founder Lucy have suffused their productions with atmospheric touches that would make a more conservatively floor-minded A&R department pretty nervous. That atmosphere—something like sci-fi horror portent—has been the primary focus of Stellate, a series of deluxe compilations Stroboscopic Artefacts started rolling out earlier this year. While the artists featured are mostly known for their techno productions (Perc, Silent Servant and nsi. are among the contributors, each of whom are asked to turn in two selections), there's hardly a beat to be found across the entire series. Instead, Stellate has been a platform for some of the year's best experimental electronic music—not to mention a potent reminder of why SA's more straightforward techno records are so special.
The fourth installment of Stellate is the series' strongest collection, with material that'll stay with you long after you've done a double-take at who's responsible for the music. Blueprint's James Ruskin provides Stellate 4's biggest surprise in the form of "Cast Down," an almost shockingly colorful Tangerine Dream-style etude that couldn't sit further from his techno sides. (His other inclusion, "Cabin Fever," is more of what you'd expect—buzzes and clicks left to wander without a beat to guide them.) The rest of the collection isn't as startling, but at this point in the series, we know what we're getting ourselves into. Luke Slater turns in a pair of tracks under his L.B. Dub Corp alias that sound like the afterimage of his Berghain sets. Sendai's two-part "Without the Written Word" focuses on the subs, with hints of high-frequency melody filling in for whatever tinnitus you're not yet suffering from. Paris's DSCRD bring music as experimental as their contribution to SA's Monad series, though their languid tempos stuff the music with delicious dread.