As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to shed a bit of light and share a bit of information on the up and coming sounds of artists such as Stellar OM Source.
Mainstream, and to a certain extent indie-based music, have become fertile ground for women to explore the artist within. However, the so-called experimental and avant world, as inclusive as they are, have yet to grab hold of women the same way pop and rock have. It could be the universal veneer that women just like music they can dance with and sing-along to and there’s just little of that to be found in between electronic squalls, mesmerizing synth solos, and atonal skronks. However, the ‘scene’ that has been carved in the avant underground (for lack of wiser adjectives) is very welcoming of the female species and it’s why those who dare to venture into its murky depths seem to find success—not as a sexual object for dirty men to fawn and fuss over but as legitimate makers of art that transcends gender, genre, and genetics.
Christelle Gualdi, better known to her watchful minions as Stellar OM Source, happens to be such a success story. With a canon that rivals her most creative and fruitful peers, Gualdi has mined the synthesizer for all that it worth -- and then some. While synthesizers have found new life in experimental sounds, Gualdi has taken the dusty instrument into the metaphysical realm where its astrological drones and futuristic bend are transformed into philosophical caterwaul and soothing mantras. Such is the case with Rise in Planes, Gualdi’s latest for fledging vinyl outpost, Black Dirt Music. Gualdi only needs 20 minutes per side to explore the virtues of metaphysical thought. “The Oracle” envelopes the A-side with steady -- if whirling -- meditation; only deviating the relaxed melody when the built tension between inertia and inactivity are forced to spill across the track’s heavenly finale. “The Sky Pilot” occupies the B-side, glossing over the happy chakras of “The Oracle” with a darker presence. Amidst the sober drone that becomes the song’s melody, there is an ever so-slight snare marching the tune off to battle, yet no conflict ever arises. Gualdi has taken a rudimentary war chant and transformed it into a moment of black Zen. While her counterparts would be eager to destroy the tranquility with static distortion, Christelle Gualdi keeps it pristine. Whether it’s a feminine touch or learned wisdom, it keeps Rise in Planes grounded despite Gualdi’s many visits to the netherworld.
Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist who also runs the webzine, Electronic Voice Phenomenon. He writes the Monday News Mash-Up and Thursday edition of Song of the Day for the KEXP Blog. You can now follow him on Twitter.