Midwife — Forever (April 10, 2020) 円 Madeline Johnston. Bylo to v Rhinoceropolis, místní DiY scéně, kdy se Johnston sblížila s Colinem Wardem, uměleckým důvěrníkem a přítelem, komu její nové album Forever, bylo věnováno. Album nese s sebou pocit temného, přesto elegantního tajemství. Ukazuje zdání přízračného páru andělských křídel pod půlnočním měsícem. Ale stejně jako většina alba Forever je záměrně rozmazaná — jen trochu mimo zaměření připomíná díla Edgar Allan Poea. Díky překladům od Charlese Baudelaira a částečně i Stéphana Mallarmého ho známe i v Evropě. Charles Baudelaire o něm napsal: „Ze všeho, co jsem četl, nabývám přesvědčení, že Spojené státy byly pro Poea jediné velké vězení a jeho vnitřní, duchovní svět básníka nebo i pijáka byl jediným vytrvalým úsilím uniknout vlivu této odporné atmosféry.“ Podobný pocit mám z této kapely. Je to jako jeho detektivní povídky „The Purloined Letter“, poskytující „jednu z ukázek kuriózního střetu dvou myslí v jedné osobě.“ Reverby a vrstvené kytary vytvářejí sladký, šumivý list shoegaze a zlověstné vokály Madeline Johnston jsou pečlivě vypreparované pocitem vzdáleností a zkreslením, když šeptá nenápadně jednoduché refrény. Způsobem nebo v míře, vyvolávající zavádějící dojem.Location: Denver, Colorado
Style: Dream Pop
Album release: April 10, 2020
Vinyl: May 15, 2020
Record Label: Flenser Records
01. 2018 5:55
02. Anyone Can Play Guitar 4:05
03. Vow 3:59
04. Language 4:16
05. C.R.F.W. 8:42
06. S.W.I.M. 6:45
°° Recorded by Madeline Johnston.
°° Additional instrumentation by Tucker Theodore, Randall Taylor, Jensen Keller & Caden Marches.
°° Mastered by Nicholas Wilbur.
By Josiah Nelson ⌊ Published Apr 09, 2020 ⌋ Score: 9
°° Midwife’s sophomore album, Forever, carries with it a sense of dark, elegiac mystery. Its album art shows what appears to be a ghostly set of angel wings beneath a midnight moon. But, like much of Forever, it’s intentionally blurry — just a little out of focus. Reverb and layered guitars create a sweet, fizzy sheet of shoegaze, and Madeline Johnston’s vocals are haunted by distance and distortion as she whispers out deceptively simple refrains.
°° These blurry sonic elements combine to set the album’s emotional core in focus: Johnston’s dizzy, dazed grief as she copes with the suicide of her close friend, Colin Ward. Rather than describing this grief, Johnston’s six songs seem to aim for something more ambitious and elusive: to portray her experience of grief and to extend this space of grief to others.
°° This ambition naturally leads to songs of confusion and sadness, but what’s remarkable is Johnston’s warmth and empathy despite her grief. On “Language,” while a drum kick thuds, a spare guitar sings, and a synth glitches and bleeps, Johnston asks, over and over, “How do I say it, in every language?” In the song’s final moments, before the synth softly screeches and fades, she says, “I will never forget you.” On the album’s catchiest song, “Anyone Can Play Guitar,” lo~fi electronic drums sputter and fizzle as fuzzy guitars swoop and glide. Johnston sings, “Anyone can play guitar / Anyone can say goodbye / Anyone can fall in love.” °° These short refrains allow the expansive songs to breathe, which imbues the dense emotional landscape with lightness and fluidity. The album’s spare lyrical space also foregrounds the word~heavy “C.R.F.W.,” on which Colin Ward recites one of his poems. He reads, in conclusion, “Death is not violent. If you ask the leaf on the tree in autumn if it is scared to fall off the branch, it will say, ’I have given everything I am to this tree, and I am tired, and I’ll float on down now.’ Imagine the way a breeze feels against your leaf body while you finally don’t have to hold on anymore.” “C.R.F.W.” doesn’t end with Ward’s words, but instead reflects upon them with thin, glossy electrics and airy, woolen synths.
°° And then, on the closer “S.W.I.M.,” Johnston reflects most candidly on Ward’s death. As she plays a heartland~esque riff fuzzed~out with reverb and pedal effects, she competes with the textured wave of sound to sing, “You know I can’t wait forever / Treading water my whole life.” Like much of Forever, it’s bleary yet bright, acknowledging the dazed pain of Ward’s death, while simultaneously approaching life with warmth and hope.
°° As Midwife, Denver based multi~instrumentalist Madeline Johnston plays what she describes as “Heaven Metal,” or emotive music about devastation. Johnston began developing the experimental pop project in 2015 while a resident of beloved Denver DIY space Rhinoceropolis. The venue/co~op started in the early aughts and nurtured local artists until 2016, when its doors were shuttered due to high tensions surrounding the safety of DIY spaces (not coincidentally following the horrific Ghost Ship fire in Oakland). Residents were displaced around Denver and artists like Midwife were forced to start over.
°° However, it was at Rhinoceropolis that Madeline became close with Colin Ward, an artistic confidant and friend to whom her new album, Forever, is dedicated. Madeline comments, “He was my roommate and was the embodiment of that place [Rhinoceropolis] in a lot of ways. We became really close friends there. I was always learning so much from him, about life and being an artist. He was an amazing teacher and friend to me.” When Ward passed away unexpectedly in 2018, she turned towards sound to express the indescribable feelings that partnered with her grief.
°° These mournful sounds ultimately developed into her new album, Forever. The 6~song LP is a latticework of soft focus guitars and precise melodies — anthems of light piercing through gray clouds of drone. On the track “C.R.F.W.,” we hear Colin Ward reading a poem that speaks of a leaf falling from a tree in autumn: “imagine the way a breeze feels against your leaf body while you finally don’t have to hold on anymore.” Johnston responds with slowly radiating tones, branches stretching out to hold the leaf one last time. “I wanted to write him a letter. I wanted to make something for him in his memory,” Madeline says of Forever.
°° On Forever, Midwife combines ambient and dream pop into nuanced, reverb~soaked music that is equally haunting and moving.
Pressed on Black Vinyl, Mustard Yellow Vinyl, and Milky Clear with Mustard Yellow Color~in~Color Vinyl (Series Two Membership exclusive). Mustard Vinyl is also available with a limited edition Silk~Screened cover.
Nature Sound Map: Sound Map: http://www.naturesoundmap.com/
Midwife ©Katie Langley