With the election in sight and weighing our minds, it’s difficult not to lie awake at night wondering (or gripped in a cold sweat) if the upcoming presidential term will significantly alter the rest of our lives depending on who secures all those swinging states. Will we be thrown on a path leading into a dystopian wasteland? Some mix of Margret Atwood with Cormac McCarthy but double the bikes and black ties? Luckily Milwaukee’s Stacian has already ruminated on these thoughts and channeled them into her forth-coming release Songs For Cadets off of Chicago’s Moniker Records thus providing us with a soundtrack in case the end of times is upon us.
Describing the nine-track album as “a coded training-manual for intergalactic mercenaries, sent back in time from the year 2112. Life on earth has become unsustainable, and groups of young fighters have been enlisted by what's left of the global government to colonize Jupiter 6, a lush, earthlike planet out on the hostile fringes of the universe, populated by reptilian humanoids and robotic pterodactyls.” Stacian has conducted through her one-woman machine a hushed pulsating blanket of sound that wraps around ear buds and immerses the listener into the album's eerily controlled journey.
Stacian’s previous releases such as Infrared Wave and Station 2 engaged a more aggressive drum and frenzied aura to its beats, but with the new record Stacian aligns herself slightly (but maintaining her edge) in the ethereal electronic genre space and the listener senses the move from the sphere of the thunderous public into that of the subdued private.
A hint of this shift towards the haunting pull of whispered sounds was heard on her last seven-inch Pul and it seems that the year break between Pul and Songs For Cadets was one of creative growth as Stacian provides a ardent album of differing but connected electronic sounds. Although all the tracks fall under the five minute mark, which can be considered fairly short for an electro-dance record, the fluid transition of the songs allows the record to work both as one long musical stretch or individual pockets of introspection.
One of those standout pockets is track two’s “Formida.” Beginning with a steady cyclic drone beat, it seamlessly drops into a building patchwork of intergalactic sounds and Stacian’s haunting hook on repeat. “Formida’s” versatility could be heard through all settings, be it a warehouse dance floor or a darkened bedroom flat. “Escapist”, the second-to-last song on the album delves greater into the record’s otherworldly cyclical theme. A circular rhythm of a 1-2-3 vibrating synth beat layered into Stacian’s indistinct chant creates a bubble of monk-like solitude for the listener, regardless of whatever environment they are inhabiting. Rarely has a song matched so well with its title.
Songs For Cadets exhibits Stacian’s growth as an artist and distinctive sound in a world oversaturated with electro dance albums. Hopefully we will be able to relish the album sans anxiety concerning impending raids by apocalyptic gangs.