Imagine the Appalachian mountains as barren desert buttes from fracking, mountaintop removal, mining, and deforestation. Imagine it as the Pacific Southwest simply due to corporate greed and man’s parasitic destruction of the earth. This is the vision of the future Ryne Warner brings to his forthcoming album as Ohioan.
Titled Empty/Every MT, Warner’s concept record restores protest into folk music. Is it a worst case scenario or a dystopian inevitability? Slice it either way and this record feels like Appalachian environmental sci-fi folk critical in its depiction of an American wasteland. On opener “Bad Altitude”, Warner grinds through eight minutes of troublesome grooves that draw the anguish out of his voice. These are the hills that raised Warner and in his return from the American West, he’s met with tantamount desolation.
The record, in its aim to restore folk to its original protest state, does not take its methods lightly. With Appalachia and its arid eradication bearing resemblance to North Africa in mind, Warner employs the regional tools across the album: banjo, dobro, jaw harp, dulcimer, African scales, the electric guitar, modal tunings. Properly armed, Warner sings of strip mining, fear, new wastelands, police control, poisonous drinking water, uranium, and the death of the land. Empty/Every MT is a panoramic vision of putting up a good fight before its all for naught.
Ohioan’s Empty/Every MT is out May 13 on Gold Robot Records.