Land Trust: Benefit to NFOC embodies the spirit of mutual aid that guides many punk communities. When Bikini Kill’s 2020 reunion tour was cancelled, touring guitarist Erica Dawn Lyle and drum tech Vice Cooler wanted to be helpful. But during the lockdown, they were isolated in their respective homes on opposite sides of the country: Lyle, a long-time artist, critic and organizer in the DIY community, was in New York, and Cooler, a photographer, producer and drummer who has played with people like Peaches and the Raincoats, I was in California. They began swapping riffs and beats through file sharing, eventually inviting friends to write lyrics and develop the material into finished songs. The result is a 16-track sampler that sounds like a study of feminist punk from the last 30 years. The artists are using it to raise funds for Northeast Farmers of Color (NEFOC), a BIPOC-led grassroots organization fighting for land sovereignty.
Most of the heavyweights bring flourishes of their signature style to their songs with Lyle and Cooler: the Linda Lindas add bratitude to crunchy guitars on “Lost in Thought” (which also features Bikini Kill bassist Kathi Wilcox). ), Kim Gordon appears with bored outrage and anxious reverberation in “Debt Collector,” and Alice Bag brings her animated brand of edutainment to “Soul Fire Farm.” But there are also many surprises. The Raincoats take a deliciously dark turn on the standout instrumental track “AGAVE”: Driven by burgeoning synths and nerve strings, the momentum builds and then crashes like a crushingly elegant wave before the drums march solemnly into a frantic fiddle. In “Immortals”, Brontez Purnell of the defunct electroclash group Gravy Train!!!! sings a doo-wop punk number about unsung people who achieve immortality. And bassist Emily Retsas, known for her work with Phoebe Bridgers, joins vocalist Ali Carter of Philadelphia post-punk trio Control Top on “Cracks in the Ceiling,” a churning, distorted track that anticipates collapse from above. She not only does land trust reveal the stylistic and aesthetic diversity of the scenes that helped shape Lyle and Cooler’s musical sensibility; it also imagines simple yet elegant possibilities of what a collaborative album can be and do. After all, we are all stronger together.
Erica Dawn Lyle & Vice Cooler’s Land Trust: Benefit to NFOC is available through Bandcamp.