Stellar OM Source - Nite-Glo Ep - 12" Vinyl

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Batch, Album, Artist, Format,


Nite-Glo Ep
Stellar OM Source
12" Vinyl


Christelle Gualdi's artistic progression as Stellar OM Source has been a steady process of crystallization. A former student of electro-acoustic composition at the Conservatoire de Paris, she began, in the mid '00s, with lo-fi synthesizer music, hazy and diffuse and steeped in the Tangerine Dream tradition--full of misty Roland pads, new age sparkle, and tape hiss. And she made quite a lot of it, too, turning out at least seven albums between 2008 and 2010, many of them CDRs. Coming into the new decade, though, she became more deliberate. She put out fewer releases, but they were far more sharply defined. Joy One Mile, released in 2013 on RVNG, adopted snapping drum machines and references to techno and rave. It was full of hard surfaces and sharp edges, and while it was often woozier and more idiosyncratic than most functionalist club music, it wasn't hard to see where its allegiances lay, what kind of feelings it wanted to evoke.

On Nite-Glo, Stellar OM Source's transformation is complete. From the opening notes of "Sudden"--a rubbery TB-303 bassline perforated by needling analog hi-hats--it's clear that we're in techno terrain. All four tracks are marked by four-to-the-floor drum machines, squirrelly acid basslines, and wiry synth accents; there's not a lot to indicate whether they're from 1988 or 2018. Their stripped-down sound comes, in part, from the fact that she recorded the EP on the road, utilizing her touring setup. (In order to keep her luggage beneath the airlines' 20-kilogram limit, she keeps her kit light, just a handful of hardware machines.) And their clubby punch comes, likewise, from the fact that they were developed night after night in dark, sweaty rooms under the age-old, after-midnight rubric, "Fuck art, let's dance."

But to say that Gualdi has fallen into techno is not to say that she has gotten complacent. Much of the pleasure here lies in the way that she takes well-worn forms and makes them fresh again. In the opening "Sudden", the bassline strikes a perfect balance between softness and bite, and the staccato claps and snares lend a hint of delirium, but what brings the track alive are the more unexpected elements: a breathy vocal sample that casts a thin yellow light in the midst of all that darkness, like a flashlight in a coal cellar; the improbable major chords that flare up towards the end, giddy and shivering.

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