Stella Luna – Stargazer (2002)

Stargazer score

 

 

Stella Luna Stargazer

Stella Luna is a strange bit of Shoegaze history. It is not their music that makes them an oddity, but their story.

In 2002 they released their first, and so far only release: The Stargazer EP. The EP was entirely recorded on analog and vintage gear as the band described in a 2010 blogpost. The use of very expensive and inaccessible equipment sparked conversations and further interest in the band. “…but to an outsider, the entire situation looks quite ridiculous: A newcomer band, with an entire arsenal or rare equipment, releases 4 songs, and instantly become a legend in the shoegazer/dreampop scene (…) The consequence? Nothing!”. According to their very sparse blogpost, they last played a show in December of 2003. So, what is all the fuss surrounding Stella Luna?

The Stargazer EP opens with “Change”. The slow burner opens with a triumphant, octave-harmonized guitar melody, which is reminiscent of Kevin Parker’s Lonerism-era synth-guitar sound. Another highly distorted guitar is carefully placed in the background. The background-oriented guitar drones on while gentle male vocals, sung by Devon Smith, set in. “Change” thrusts forward in a very slow and majestic manner, with reminiscent nods to 90s Space Rock. The song dissolves into a lift-off of guitars and a sour sounding organ, before it cleverly glides into the next song.

If the first song’s ending was a space shuttle leaving for space, “Stargazer”, the second song on this EP, would be the view you would have on earth from outer space. While sonically it follows a similar route that “Change” followed, the guitar melodies were replaced by a reverb-soaked female voice with occasional assistant from male vocals. The vocals blend in perfectly with the heavenly guitar that tremolo-dips once-in-a-while, á la Kevin Shields. Where most bands blatantly copy Kevin Shields’ playing style, Stella Luna take what he established and tastefully repurposes it. The song gently finds its end with muffled, inaudible dialogue.

“Antares”, the longest track at 8 minutes, is the most spacious. Starting with a lofty guitar and organ-like keys, the song keeps a more jammed, loose feel to it. This amateur comp feeling is only more intensified when additional guitars enter the left and right audio channel subliminally. During the halfway point, the song comes to a halt before being picked up again, this time even more spacious than before. This phase of the song could easily fit on a King Black Acid record, or various iconic 90s Space Rock gems. The song ends in response to its beginning. Instead of layers of sounds being added, the song strips itself of the layers it built, slowly loses its form, until there’s nothing left but wind.

The EP closes with the fantastic “A Bridge To Nowhere”, the most subliminal track yet. The song starts off with the previously introduced organ but gains momentum and intensity as the song goes, until it picks up full speed at the halfway mark. The octave-harmonized guitar melodies from “Change” make an appearance again and the song loses itself in instrumentation and echoed vocals. Before the song ends, the listener is treated once more with a thick crust of fuzzy guitar chords. Swirly noise sets in, and the instrumentation fades out.

This is where the journey of Stella Luna ends. This 4-track EP is Stella Luna’s entire legacy and remains a highly sought-after collector’s item in every Shoegazer’s physical media collection. Whether or not the band will ever release new music remains the question. A gem of an EP, rare vintage gear and a lackluster backstory are what remain of the band for now, and maybe, forever.

8.5/10

Author: Julia

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