Few power electronics releases have moved me quite like Stress Orphan’s most recent full-length, Mass Casualty Event, though Koufar’s 2015 opus Lebanon for Lebanese is the most recent example to come to mind. Like Lebanon for Lebanese, Mass Casualty Event is a political exercise that is steeped in both personal repulsion and disgust, but, most importantly, it is grounded in an all too monstrous, too familiar reality. In the nascent stages of power electronics, Whitehouse, Consumer Electronics, and others placed an emphasis on personal, microcosmic depravity; the kind of depravity you might read about in a local newspaper; the kind of insidious depravity that made you question your next-door neighbor. A lot has changed since the early eighties. The time it took for information, resources, and people to get from one place to the next became much, much shorter, so the world began to feel much, much smaller. The dark corners receded, and light shone down on all the ugliness.
Appropriately, on Mass Casualty Event, Eric Trude—the sole creative force behind the project—deeply ruminates on U.S. territory Saipan. An island that has been mined and exploited for its cheap labor, Saipan is basically built upon indentured servitude gone even more totally fucked. Like the best historical or political fiction, Mass Casualty Event presupposes an uprising in which the laborers of Saipan horde enough resources to launch a nuclear attack back at the United States for birthing it in its resplendent horror.
Throughout the release’s mechanical gurgles and harsh static, Trude yells in a low-end roar, but on one album highlight in the title track, Trude sounds especially out for blood, and also prophetic in using a vocabulary drenched in apocalyptic literature with an assortment of blinding lights, cacophony, and heavy seismic vibrations. “This was always how it would end,” he eulogizes at one point of the song—an appropriate epitaph for a country emblematic of historical greed and entitlement, and one that future generations might read if we don’t change our tune.
01) There Are Many Knives
02) Breeder Reactor
03) Mass Casualty Event
04) Welcome to the Island