When U.S. President Donald Trump won Wisconsin in the 2016 election, he did so by just 25,000 votes, an advantage of less than one per cent. What was most remarkable about the victory though wasn’t its margin. It was the fact that Trump was the first Republican candidate to win Wisconsin since Ronald Reagan’s re-election in 1984.
What’s changed there over the last three decades mirrors the decline of traditional manufacturing economies across the U.S. Among the companies that call Wisconsin home: John Deere, Milwaukee Electric Tool Company, Caterpillar Inc. and Harley-Davidson. Match the difficult economic transition facing the state with a population – according to the 2010 U.S. Census – that is 83% non-Hispanic white and you have a recipe for Trumpism.
Following all this from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Swedish duo Thet Liturgiske Owäsendet has produced a stirring ode to the Wisconsin Mining State. Linus Schrab and Johan Fotmeijer use guitars, field recordings and modular synths to build a bleak landscape of scraping metal and throbbing beats.
Known in the past for more long-form drone electronics, this album is relatively complex for TLO. That’s not to say its cluttered. There’s a balance across the 39-minute album between ambience and percussion that results in an appropriately combined sense of loss and genuine angst.
Wisconsin Mining State is a cassette/digital download release on Forwind, a label operating in Berlin, London and Manchester. Three cities that know a thing or two about economic transitions.