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Killed Alive

by Stella Research Committee

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Killed alive 02:44
Cert 02:16


On the sixth - and by this writing - posthumous release of the Cincinnati noise rock trio Stella Research Committee commits to record an absolutely punishing and paranoid record that manages to throw it’s entire weight into a brick wall and somehow make it out the other side. On Killed Alive, the “garroted power trio” of Kevin Hall (vocals / guitar / piano), Tony Squeri (synths / programming) and Lauri Reponen (drums / percussion / sample pad) stretch their linear assault of minimal wave synths and jagged guitar attacks across 13 tracks of lurching, brooding and unhinged noise rock that has only gotten more virulent and potent as consensus reality crumbled.

While there is a sense that at any point Stella Research Committee could pull the entire temple down with its serrated whiplash of live percussion, guitars and electronics, Killed Alive manages to remain frighteningly cohesive - both musically and thematically. The low-end crush of a blast cabinet’s sentient reverb tail cresting right as Reponen’s double-timed percussion catches up with Hall’s shrapnel-fed guitar lines before erupting into a violent maelstrom of noise suggests that the five albums preceding Killed Alive opened channels between the trio with neuro-linked precision. Examples like these are spread between the album’s 13 tracks, like the neck-breaking snap of songs like “Production Deficiency Rehabilitation” where the propulsive heave wouldn’t sound out of place in an Unsane song. Hall’s vocals run between the scathing sing-speak of Ought’s Tim Darcy to labored wheezing into the swirling void. Other tracks, like the album’s stunning closer “C-Suite” find the group leaning into a hybrid of minimal wave coldness with a strangely melodic power electronic field - pulling as much from Aphex Twin as it does Brighter Death Now.

With this refined cohesion as a trio, the oblique thematic elements seem to have also come into sharper focus: The absurdity of corporate workplace culture that is largely shaped around the anxieties that at any moment they will be found out to be completely redundant and replaceable. Capitalist realism taken to its most bespoke horrors of esoteric sacrifice and communal bloodletting (the empire never ended). Research and Development as alchemical wedding. Technology providing tools to realize and actualize our darkest impulses. The “Dark Forest” principle of intergalactic paranoia. A market demand for trauma narratives that drives art towards the crassest of personal ends. Going to work to escape the tedium of creating art.

These ideas swirl through Killed Alive’s 13 tracks. But much unlike the misanthropic ends of their noise rock predecessors, Killed Alive’s main narrative thrust is that paranoia can be a useful logical default but is a mode of existence that can be overcome. The option that Killed Alive provides wouldn’t sound too out of place in a CBT-oriented therapist or in an AA meeting: You can only control what you can control. To be so consumed in a narrative that ultimately sees you as a battery is a toxic type of solipsism. No digital warrior oath or virtue signaling into the echo chamber can give our life meaning as much as paying close attention to who and what is happening in our shrinking sphere of influence. There’s something freeing in that.

So while this may be Stella Research Committee's final album as a trio, it’s an album that the gives some of their most thrilling acrobatics and a way to fall up the rabbit hole.

-Ryan Hall,


released May 12, 2023

Recorded and Engineered by John Hoffman
Mastered by Carl Saff
Illustrations and Text by Jackie Switzer

Tony Squeri-Synthesizers, Drum machine
Kevin Hall-Guitar, Drum Machine, Piano, Vocals
Lauri Reponen-Drums, Sample Pad


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Stella Research Committee Cincinnati, Ohio

Stella Research Committee was a BAND with members in both Cincinnati and Columbus, OH.

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