New York-based performance artist, electronic producer and DJ Colleen Martin (aka Lady Starlight) has had a diverse career that you couldn’t possibly make up. While she initially attracted attention for her associations with longtime collaborator Lady Gaga, spinning the likes of Jeff Mills and Joey Beltram records in between Gaga’s sets on her ArtRave tour before going out to open for Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, more recently she’s become known for her ongoing live collaborations with hard techno figurehead Surgeon.
Two years on from her debut ‘Operator’ single, this untitled follow-up 12” EP on Stroboscopic Artefacts collects together four tracks that place an emphasis on hard-edged dancefloor functionality and the pleasure of monotonous repetition. ‘E12’ opens proceedings with a pounding 4/4 kickdrum groove that calls to mind one of Robert Hood’s pared back and economical productions while layers of darting rave stabs spiral in loops around the main spine, adding a unrelenting sense of alarm-like urgency as steely hi-hat rolls shimmer in the foreground. As with all of the tracks here, while there’s a harsh brutalist quality to the rhythmic undercarriage, it’s fused with an attention to subtle details, as minute variations get slowly teased out of the constantly shifting layers, resulting in an effect that’s frequently mesmerising.
Elsewhere, ‘E2.2’ sees bright shades seeping into the mix as skipping snares and metallic-sounding melodic tones ripple against muted kickdrums and pressurised hi-hats, the constant panning of the trebly elements taking on a hypnotic edge as the hi-hats get filtered into a rush of white noise. It’s ‘F8’ that easily offers up the most relentless machine workout here, as juddering bass sequences add an EBM-tinged edge to the hammering metallic snare rolls and punishing 4/4 kickdrums that roll alongside them, darting flashes of filtered synth stabs adding to the mounting sense of panic – it’s certainly not hard to see why Surgeon saw Martin as a kindred spirit.