In this age of disinformation, misinformation, and just plain lies, it is hard to know how to interpret “The Message” to which the cinema-rock group Starset makes reference.  Their July 8, 2014 release “Transmissions” is itself a combination of songs that could easily fit into the soundtrack of any modern day sci-fi film and arena-ready rockers reminiscent of bands such as 30 Seconds to Mars or (back in the day) Electric Light Orchestra.  With titles like “Telescope”, “Antigravity”, and “The Future Is Now”, you have a pretty good idea what you are going to get from the album but what really intrigued me was the motivating factor for the formation of the band.

The band’s leader, Dustin Bates, formerly of the band Downplay states that they were recruited as entertainment media messengers by a Dr. Ashton Wise to help deliver a message to humanity that has been kept hidden from us, yet will have an impact on all of our lives that may be unprecedented in human history.  As a researcher of truth for the last 25 years of my life I was pleasantly surprised by the information I obtained from the band’s website, www.starsetonline.com.

As a trained researcher I have a healthy bit of skepticism whenever I read fantastic claims and I tend to rely on alternate and varied sources in order to help confirm, deny, or give some credence to information provided on such esoteric topics as secret societies, hidden control systems and social engineering.  The fact that Starset has released their album as part of the Starset Society’s mission to deliver “The Message” completely changed my evaluation of their album and its importance as a piece of art, but potentially more importantly, as an avenue of education about the “truths” that we as humans have held onto so tightly for the last few thousand years.

I sincerely recommend that you visit www.starsetonline.com to learn more about the thinking involved in the creation of the album Transmissions.  As with any information received, it can neither be accepted nor denied without additional corroboration, which I recommend you explore.  However, I warn you that the things you learn may be a bit frightening.  The rabbit hole goes down a long, long way, Alice.  Although one is never sure today whether information received is a form of marketing and manipulation or if it is in fact beauty and truth, I have been assured that frontman Bates is very sincere and earnest about the information they have presented and “The Message” that they intend to deliver.

Having said all this, the album itself is really great.  The production includes electronic music as well as classical composition for strings, giving it the overall feel of a soundtrack for a big-release summer sci-fi blockbuster.  Many of the songs including “Telescope” and “The Future Is Now” describe the search for something familiar beyond the sphere of our earth, possibly kindred spirits far away, who may or may not be searching for the same thing and looking (or listening) in our direction.

From the opening strains of dub-step electronic noise in “First Light”, to the piano and synths exit from the album in the song “Rise and Fall”, one is presented with an image of exploration and discovery, requiring intelligence, wonder, and Truth most of all.

Track 4, “Carnivore” and track 7, “My Demons” were both released as digital singles before the release of Transmissions in July of 2014.  I see these tracks as a separate but related search for truth, but for truth in self.  Which part of us is gentle saint and which part is carnivore, barely holding back the animal within?

Track 2, “Down With The Fallen” should definitely be released as a single if the band truly wants to reach a global audience because it is powerful and radio-friendly.  A fantastic song detailing the struggle of the “awakened” to correlate what is “real” with what is “known”.  “Can you tell me what is real? ‘Cause I lost my way again.  Can you tell me how to feel?”  Yeah, tell me about it brother.  I’m right there with ya.

The second through fifth tracks, “Down with the Fallen”, “Halo”, “Carnivore”, and “Telescope” flow into each other and have similar arrangements, so it almost seems as if it is one long song which gives it that soundtrack quality mentioned earlier.  Upon the first few listenings, I discounted this as being a lack of diversity in the band’s creative process but after researching “The Message” and really diving into the band’s philosophy, I understand that this sub-group of songs tells the story of a person searching for that which he/she has always known.  A learned traveler, searching for that truth which has been stolen and hidden from us, the knowledge that we are not alone in this universe, and that the histories that we have been taught are intentionally inaccurate.

The album reaches an early climax on track 6, “It Has Begun”.  Baker and company are ready to make their stand against those who would “steal our place in the sun”.  The song modulates between motivational movements and wave-form hemi demisemiquavers to produce feelings of triumph and exhilaration in the listener.  I kid you not.  Starset describe their sound as cinematic rock and their debut album truly shows this sense of ebb and flow that is essential to the interpretive arts of both music and film.

The next two cuts “Antigravity” and “Dark On Me”, serve as a type of denouement after the frenetic rhythms and energy of “It Has Begun”, bringing us down to a more sedate state as the album begins to build to the finish with the battle-hymns “The Future Is Now”, “Point of No Return” and the final track “Rise And Fall”.

“The Future Is Now” and “Point Of No Return” clearly state Starset’s mission.  They intend to present Truth to us and they will not be swayed.  Bravo, Starset!  Thank you for your courage.  We have reached the “Point of No Return” and we cannot turn back now no matter how much pain it may cause us.  Great Truth is worthy of Great Struggle.

“Rise And Fall” brings the album to a triumphant, visceral end.  After the first half of the songs ends with roaring vocals, orchestral instrumentation, and a dramatic high-intensity arrangement, the song concludes with musical arrangement that could have been included in Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey.  It leaves the listener in a state of peaceful vigor with that feeling that you need to go out and get something done.  You know that feeling I’m talking about?  That “I’m not sure what it is, but I will get something important done today!” feeling that we all get from time to time?  That’s maybe the most important message that the album delivers.  We all have the power to do important things, every day.  Go out and do something important today.  Thanks for giving Starset, Midwest Music Scene and me some of that important time today.   by Rob Crupper