Marketplace Fear

Starvation Wages

Independent release, 2023

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


A Burlington, Vermont artist who has a lengthy history in the Seattle music scene, Jason Dean takes a step away from his punk and indie rock past for these synth- and sample-filled four songs that make for an exciting throwback debut under the moniker of Starvation Wages. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The quick listen gets off to a cryptic start with the political spoken word of “exarcheia,” where bright synth stabs and dance floor ready beats are met with a busy techno meets post-punk flavor that might remind you of New Order with a gym membership. “anatomized” then follows, and carries a bit of an ominous angle amid the energetic dance-rock energy that’s as sweaty as it is infectious.

The back half brings us the atmospheric and sci-fi buzzing of the animated and textured “occupy:revolt,” which might be the best track present. It’s a glitchy, industrial-influenced delivery, and one that’s peppered with soft moments and light vocals, too.

The EP exits with “surveillance capitalism,” where rapid fire synthetic drumming and percussive manipulation that incorporates busy rock bouts and calmer ebbs of beauty as it fades out.

The songs here were honed during the pandemic, often live when the opportunity arose, and it sounds like it could emanate from dimly lit basements or warehouse raves where pulling a permit was never even considered. Dean does take influence from analog sounds, as well as the underground Black and Queer culture of cities like Detroit, plus the political climate that fueled legends like Kraftwerk.

If bands like Skinny Puppy, Front 242, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails and Atari Teenage Riot are in your rotation, then Starvation Wages’ brand of punk-fueled “industrial techno” that seeks to provide a voice to “Anarchists and critics of American imperialism” is 17 minutes you’ll want to revisit again.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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