Released this June under the label Forwind, Wisconsin Mining State throws us in a peculiar world: the ruins of the mining area in Southern Wisconsin. Whilst some choose to look toward easier or more seductive subjects, Johan Fotmeijer and Linus Schrab take us to these abandoned mines that were once a model of America’s industrial success.
Platteville softly opens with a minimalist material. Two four-notes loops form a melancholic counterpoint, some dark waves laid on an uninterrupted growing roar. The tone has been set, wistful and bleak. There is however something religious in that first track, something deeply contemplative. Johan and Linus paint a more anguished picture with Hazel Green . Marked by the regular beat of a midrange/treble percussion that reminds me the sound of a distant pick, this track has a sort of thriller vibe ; some murky waves alternates with a haunting loop, a sonorous alloy in which I thought I could discern the eery timbre of Cristal Baschet. We find ourselves in the same disturbing atmosphere with Klar Piquett , but here the bottom of spectrum is more exploited: some aggregates of percussions punctuate the musical discourse. Squealing metal and sirens as in the mist, distant echoes of the past industrial activity. The sound becomes dirtier in Iron Ridge and Mineral Point . Distorted drones and pulsing basses. The presence of machines is particularly evident now, closer. I feel like at this point the global structure of the album corresponds to the form of each track ; crescendo-decrescendo, ebb and flow.
The last track – Rajah – confirms this. First track’s meditative / religious state resurfaces here, but the metal loops have been replaced by a distant choir ; all is quiet now.
Wisconsin Mining State offers the listeners a singular and powerful experience. In some ways, it seems to be responding – with a cleaner style, to today’s musical world that often confuses the wealth of production tools and musical intelligence.