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  • Filed under: Review
  • 06/11/2013

Stellar Om Source Joy One Mile

Stellar Om Source (a.k.a. Christelle Gualdi) is someone who'd been relatively quiet in recent years—that is, until Joy One Mile and its preceding single, "Elite Excel," were announced back in May. Aside from some sparing limited-edition singles, Gualdi's last release of note was an Olde English Spelling Bee compilation in 2010, Trilogy Select, which found the producer exploring the same sort of hypnagogic synth realms as artists like Oneohtrix Point Never and Emeralds. That era has definitively passed, and correspondingly her sound has moved into new territories as well.

Arranged and mixed by Kassem Mosse, Joy One Mile is a definitive step towards techno for the Belgian-based artist/producer, which sits in notable contrast to her previous spectral, mostly beatless material. The record takes clear cues from the more cerebral side of Detroit techno and early Warp artists such as LFO, with brittle 808 drum patterns underpinning frequently unhinged atmospheric synth work.

Opening track "Polarity" immediately announces these influences with a long and measured intro of steady, pulsating bass, intricate drum-machine patterning, and swathes of irregular bleeps, which are then transformed halfway through the track by the introduction of lilting synth tones, chiming arpeggios, and a rhythmic shift along less foreboding lines. "Par Amour" is likewise firmly rooted in the tropes of dance music—even if it's not strictly primed for the dancefloor itself—pulling a vocal sample from 1992 house track "Motions of Love" by Soulman, which is paired with sparse and propulsive Detroit electro beats.

Much of the rest of the record draws from a similar sound palette. Lead single "Elite Excel" resembles a streamlined, acid-inflected take on classic techno with its lush chords and cascading drum-machine beats, while the deeply zoned-out synthscapes of "Fascination" bear the most prominent traces of Stellar Om Source's early recordings. The CD and digital versions of the record are closed out by Mosse's remix of "Elite Excel," which breaks from the album's template of spartan, skeletal electro with lush and delightful results.

While it's difficult and perhaps pointless to speculate on what influence Mosse had over the sound of Joy One Mile as a whole (he was reportedly given "carte blanche" to do whatever he liked with it), the album possesses a delicate sense of polish that is very much continuous with Gualdi's earlier, more drone-based work. As such, the first Stellar Om Source full-length since 2010 represents more than just another experimental musician discovering dance music; it documents an accomplished artist updating a classic sound while maintaining her own sensibilities.

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