Sunday, March 24, 2024

Midwife's "Luminol" and Ragana's "Desolation's Flower" & West Coast Tour Mar 19 - Apr 5

The Flenser label has come to specialize in some of the newest strains of heavy rock, noise, slowcore and postpunk emerging domestically in the course of the last decade. These sounds vary widely between the roaring solar blast of shoegaze and hardcore of bands like Deafheaven and the dynamic topographic landscapes varying between a minimalist stasis and pure noise of Have a Nice Life. More recently post-hardcore outfits like Chat Pile and Kayo Dot have been enlisted into their roster, and sounds bridging lofi folk and postrock like that heard on Vyva Melinkolya's "Orbweaving" collaboration with Midwife. Embracing experimental black metal and doom, the label has released work by Agriculture and Bell Witch respectively, and Botanist, who improbably had a feature in the pages of the Atlantic, "The Brilliant Black Metal Album about Plants Wiping Out Humankind". More recent entries by Drowse, Sprain, and Planning for Burial move between all of these points with their fluid hybrids of genre. Having passed the milestone of its tenth anniversary, the label's founder Jonathan Tuite described its ethos for New Noise; “When I started the label I was intending it to be very much focused on black metal,” Tuite explains. “There was sort of a black metal scene that was happening in the U.S. at that time. I mean it had changed forms and kind of diversified a little bit. So, Tuite expanded his label’s sonic horizons and began exploring other styles. “I have sort of gone with what intuitively feels like it relates to the label. So something like the Midwife record feels like it’s part of the Flenser catalogue. It doesn’t feel like an outsider, and so part of that is like intuition for me and just kind of different sets of judgment." In some ways, it could be surmised that, "The Flenser Is a One-Man Pursuit of Quality Doom". Rather than doom as the metal genre specifically, the label's site offers "100% Gloom", "Suffer", "No Future", and "Nope" as its conceptual and curatorial variables, which it also represents in print, and heard on compilations like 2022's "Send the Pain Below". The cloistered corner of existence that the label has made its focus is audibly represented by the "ability to wrench ecstasy from devastation, to make romance out of abject pain, and to transmute specific feelings into an ineffable longing", as heard on "Luminol", Madeline Johnston’s third album as Midwife. These sounds meet the "furious drums, squalls of guitar, and guttural vocals delivered in a language of pain", of Ragana's "Desolation's Flower", as the two bands tour this spring, with a date at Seattle's Black Lodge . Update: After the Olympia, Washington date in the tour, a majority of the bands' equipment was stolen. There are now cancellations to some of the dates on the tour, and a GoFundMe has been set up for relief.