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Starset is the sonic interzone where fact, science and speculation collide. Their Razor & Tie debut, Transmissions is a thought-provoking broadcast of cinematic rock full of dramatic intents and personal nuances. Like any great piece of art, Transmissions begs more questions than it actually answers: precisely the intent of vocalist and songwriter Dustin Bates. What separates Starset from being simply a great band? When Bates formed Starset in 2013, it was done in collusion with a shadowy, multi-media group called The Starset Society to expand on scientific and political themes that course throughout the albums’ lyrical zeitgeist.
Figurative. Literal. Real. Imagined. A delusion. A warning. Imagine an audio-visual schema culled from the fever-dreams of Trent Reznor and Phillip K. Dick. The Starset Society is an admonishment of what mankind could become when technologies are created without implication. Songs like the active-rock hit, “My Demons” or sprawling “Halo” are the audio accompaniment to a tale set amongst humanity’s highest aspirations and utter ruin. Bates’ voice is at once plaintive and bellicose: a rage against the machine of slashing guitars and pulsing electronics where songs like “Carnivore” are slaked with heaviness and harmony while the likes of “Telescope” show a haunting, poignant side to Dustin’s dangerous visions.
Bates’ credentials are wildly compelling. A PhD candidate in electrical engineering at Ohio University, he has done research for the U.S. Air Force and taught at the International Space University. He was also briefly signed to Epic Records with his prior group, Downplay: an experience that fueled the frontman’s rage against the corporate machine when his album was shelved due to record company indifference.
With producer Rob Graves (Red, All That Remains), Bates forged a next-gen creative alloy that would become Transmissions. The album was subsequently mixed by Ben Grosse (30 Seconds to Mars, Fuel) and soon after, found a home with Razor & Tie Records.
The themes and ideological fractals at the core of Starset are completely fact-based. They date back to 1899 when Nikola Tesla detected cosmic radio signals he believed to be communications from alien intelligences. They are also as cutting edge as the recent discovery of Planet Kepler 186, a “Twin Earth” light years away that could one day become a home for a spacefaring human race. With Bates & Crew currently on the road winning over fans: it’s very clear the Starset message has been sent.