Distributed By: STOiK
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Earlier this month, I got a message from good friend and talented musician and producer, Marc Meriläinen. He wondered if I would be interested in checking out some indigenous electronic pop from the Canadian artist STOiK. I love listening to new types of music and trust Marc as knowing talent when he hears it. I couldn’t wait to check out STOiK’s debut album, Pareidolia.
Reading STOiK’s biography is quite interesting. According to their website and Facebook page, STOiK lives in the future – 2042, to be exact. It is in this time that the Earth becomes uninhabitable and humans are forced to leave. Those that refuse, most of whom are Indigenous, move underground and their descendants survive through the use of ancient knowledge and practice. STOiK is a group of Indigenous artists and warriors who live in this future. Led by Gidochige, which translates to “He plays music” in Anishinaabemowin, the group performs Indigenous EDM with hints of Pow Wow Techno.
Before I write the rest of this review, I should give you a little background regarding my introduction to indigenous music. For two years in elementary school, I had a teacher named Mrs. Ruth Levine who was very much into the arts and history. While other classrooms were being taught what wonderful things our country did for the Native Americans, we were being taught the truth, inspired to read more about what people coming to this country did to those who were indigenous to the land. She took us to the Museum of Natural History Native American exhibits, introduced us to artwork like sand painting, Navajo weaving and more. Most importantly to this article, she introduced us to the music of Native Americans. I have been a student ever since, absorbing all I can.
As an adult, I crave more of the arts, focusing more on the music that inspired me so greatly as a kid and how that music has evolved. Thanks to Marc Meriläinen, I have met a number of artists in the Canadian music scene and have always enjoyed the music he has pointed me towards. STOiK’s brand of music is a tad different from some of the stuff I have been listening to, though Alissa Skorik’s stuff did contain some bits of techno in there. From the first track of STOiK’s Pareidolia, I was hooked. The album contains a mix of instrumental and lyrical tracks beginning with Earth Abides. That first track is instrumental, mixing techno sound, indigenous beats and the singing I remember so well from the music my teacher introduced me to as well as from Pow Wows I have actually been lucky enough to attend over the years.
The lyrical tracks span the scope on topics from love to destruction to the need for awareness in a world that is slowly dying. Most of the lyrical tracks feature the beautiful voice of Aleah Belle. Though I loved them all, most poignant among those tracks are How's That Sound?, featuring Plex and Aleah Belle, and Behold a Pale Horse, featuring Jahkota, Plex and Drezus.
How’s That Sound? may be a song based on the future that STOiK has described for itself, but I see it as more of a warning to the world today: “You can do what you want with the flowers / You can do what you want with the trees / You can do anything to the water / So long as it doesn’t affect me / And I tried speaking to you with reason / All you do is keep pulling me down / Tell me what good is having money to spend / When there’s no longer nobody around? / How’s that sound?” Basically, it’s saying, “Attention corporations and governments who don’t care about the pollution, the destruction of our water supplies and the trees you keep taking down to make room for more industry and dwellings – you say it’s too expensive to operate in a way that leaves a smaller carbon footprint, but what good is that money you save going to be once the Earth you live on is destroyed?” The rap in this track is awesome, discussing how we are rapidly destroying our world, both physically and socially.
Behold a Pale Horse has a bit of the beat and Indigenous song from the first track on the album, but the rap is what is most important here. The lyrics discuss what has been done to the Indigenous people and the world we live in. It’s an anthem for the descendants, telling them to wake up, stop letting the government hold you down, learn from the elders and become someone who can make a difference for your people and your world. It’s important to listen to what they are saying in this song – the indigenous people were very cognizant of Mother Earth and the bounty they had been given. They took care of the earth and only hunted what they needed. Then others came and overhunted, polluted and took what they wanted, holding the Indigenous down, often steering them down poor paths, letting them believe they had no better choice. This song is empowering. It’s not exactly a call for rebellion, but it is a call to awareness and a need to find a greater path.
Much as I loved the lyrical tracks on this album, Pareidolia is so much more and I loved every single instrumental piece on this album. ELE reminds me of Return to Innocence by Enigma…it has that soothing quality of the background wind with the synths. New Green is another one of those tracks that mixes Indigenous percussion with some awesome synths. If you don’t find yourself bobbing your head or perhaps wanting to get up and dance to some of the instrumental tracks on this album, you just don’t know how to enjoy music.
I’m so glad that Marc steered me towards STOiK and their debut album, Pareidolia! What an amazing debut!