Friday, February 26, 2016

Listen: OHIOAN - "Bad Altitude"

Though I'm sure he's not the only one, one of perhaps the most famous musicians to address the growing issue of mountaintop removal in/for coal mining has been Kentucky singer/songwriter/cellist Ben Sollee. In fact it was a central theme on Dear Companion, his collaborative album with Daniel Martin Moore released back in 2010. Despite the attention, it's a looming problem with no resolution achieved and that's where OHIOAN's Ryne Warner comes into the picture. Six years after the release of Sollee and Moore's Dear Companion, a record that was very popularly received, mountaintop removal is still leading to the deteriorating of the Appalachians and Warner is sick of it resulting in concept record EMPTY/EVERY MT.

"Bad Altitude", from OHIOAN's upcoming record, is an introduction to Warner's set of Americana protest songs. The record's concept - taking many of the instruments popular in folk/country music in the Appalachian region (banjo, dobro, jawharp, and dulcimer) and pairs them with African scales and modal tunings to recall the deserts of North Africa and the American West (where Warner now lives). The result is a sort of deconstructed folk punk; an uncharacteristically aggressive Americana. At nearly 8 minutes "Bad Altitude" gives itself ample time to develop. Sustained notes on banjo and utilization of space create a sense of expansiveness necessary to Warner's musical world building as it recalls both the wide uninterrupted expanses of the desert plain and Warner's Appalachian Desert. Electric guitar interrupts the sparse banjo lines and ultimately jettisons the track into an assertive fervor it retains for much of its forward plod and colors Warner's sardonic lyricism.

OHIOAN's EMPTY/EVERY MT is out May 13th on Gold Robot Records. Pre-orders are available now.

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