By Chris Ricci
In the early 80s, author Bruce Bethke coined the term "Cyberpunk" to describe a short story of his set in a technological utopia that focused more on the downtrodden aspects of that society. These technological noir stories had an overwhelming influence on all forms of media, and to this day the forefathers of the genre are responsible for terminology that we use almost daily to describe the technologies we use that, at one point, existed merely as fiction. Now, knowing what a cyberpunk setting is, what would say that world would /sound/ like? A world like that certainly would have many techno influences on their music, but like most plots in a cyberpunk universe, there's an assimilation of the past that we, as viewers, are comfortable with. This blending of the past with the grinding and crunching of a technologically superior future offers an incredible opportunity for musicians that few have actually attempted to work with. Local artist Briana Paquin, however, has accomplished this feat effortlessly in a three song EP.
One of the main driving forces behind Briana's "Reconfigure" EP is her musical upbringing. Her undeniable classical influence both instrumentally and vocally gives her an almost impossible edge when it comes to melding with futuristic soundscapes. The snappy and procession-heavy backdrop of "Echo" is broken with an eerily beautiful vocal cadence that, eventually, forms the statement "no starship can save me." In fact, the science fiction influenced lyrics bookend the EP nicely and can be as playful as they are poignant. The title track, a long time live staple for Briana, sees new life on the EP, and is clearly representative on how Briana wants this song to be adored. However, the true masterwork on "Reconfigure" comes in the form of the middle track, "Love In The Underworld." The track, markedly influenced by mythos surrounding Persephone and Hades, features Briana at her most vocally vulnerable. Accompanied with an instrumental backdrop that would make Björk jealous, Briana rolls through the song with ease, and the repetitious call of "let new life grow" sums up the entire idea of "Reconfigure."
The cohesive blending of modern day sci-fi and classic mythology on "Reconfigure" is more than just coincidence. In a cyberpunk world, the past bleeds into the present not as influence, but as a faded reminder of what may have been. Sure, you can find some of Briana's influences if you listen to "Reconfigure" casually. From classical titans to 90s industrial music, the sounds might exist in some capacity, but that's not the point. The echoes of the past in the cybernetic future that is "Reconfigure" act more like seeds that were planted amidst the cyberscape to "let new life grow."