“If there is one thing that leaps out from Stellar OM Source’s music, it is the sense of a highly active mind at work. There is an indivisible feeling that a real person is behind this dynamic flurry of tones, waves, vibrations and modulations. On I See Through You, the first full Stellar OM Source release in over four years, the spark that first LP piqued the interest of so many listeners is glowing stronger than ever.
In the 2010s, Christelle Gualdi carved a name as one of the most essential live electronic musicians around, dazzling dancers and home listeners in kind with her bombastic, acidic hardware jams. Circumstances outside her control forced a stop for the Stellar OM Source project. It was touring, including two shows in the summer of 2019 at Dekmantel Festival and Listen! that Gualdi credits as year highlights, which proved to be the integral jump-start to the engine. Inspiration came rushing back thanks to the human connection of performing. Seeing a younger generation connect with her put fresh charge into the circuitry of her gear. All this accrued into new material on the road, and thus I See Through You was born.
The spirit of 2013’s cult favourite Joy One Mile is alive and well on I See Through You. There is once again immediacy, urgency and lust. But Stellar OM Source stepping into a comparatively more poppy and playful mode on these four tracks could also throw some. Fundamentally she says, it comes from a similar place, and ends with an enmeshed and positive outcome. Gualdi credits both “1995 rave” and “the clarity, bass and breath” of hi-def hip-hop productions as being twin northern stars for her to follow. The artwork comes from friend and highly respected photographer & director Pierre Debusschere, whose work similarly flits between arresting close-ups and, well, the widescreen luxe of Beyoncé videos. “I’m definitely not a purist anymore,” Gualdi laughs – and with club-ready impact meeting human warmth, this shows in abundance.
“Night Alone” wastes no time in getting the listener up to speed. Is that an LFO sample running through “Night Alone”? Is this a lost Metro Area classic? Is that Stellar OM Source taking a diversion into searching Ibiza-rousing vocal for a moment, or did we imagine that in a heat haze? Where are the kicks? Oh there they are. How many elements are buried and revived within just over five minutes? It’s hard to tell. Before we know it, “Lost Codes” is up and away, keeping pulses racing. A pitter-patter of baby kicks feel like a pre-tremor before a welting electro-Italo lead crashes into play. With fizzing energy, rasping synths and a frisson of danger, fans of Unit Moebius and The Hacker will be doing somersaults of joy.
“White Echoes” wastes kicks off the flip side with low gurgles descending briefly like a UFO reverse parking into the spot SOS had vacated. Soon, 303s are twisting like Chinese burns while warm chords offer a salve. The mood maintains on “Wild Palms”, the only song on this record not to feature additional mixing work from Peaking Lights’ dub-wise sensei Aaron Coyes. True to form, the B2 is all Stellar: elements switching up and out, with all the fun and frenzy of capital-L Live action. Kick drums and bassline darting back and forth like a synchronised swimming routine, all elements in concert. The momentum of a runaway mine cart that you can’t help but strap yourself to. I See Through You is one for the dancers who have given Stellar OM Source the motive to move forward once again.”