Closer - "Within One Stem"
- Natural Clear vinyl with black inner sleeve
1. Ruins in Reverse
3. Now Refused
5. Pawning a Laugh
6. Angry Flood
Release Date: March 12th, 2021
Closer began on a whim in 2016 when vocalist and drummer Ryann Slauson and guitarist Matthew Van Asselt ran into each other in a Brooklyn practice space where both had been playing with other bands. The two had first met studying art at Purchase College, and floated the idea of starting a “hardcore” leaning band, but not made any concrete plans. After that spontaneous practice, they quickly recruited bassist Griffin Irvine, who had been playing in bands with Matt on and off since middle school.
The trio played Brooklyn’s DIY circuit for a while and did one national DIY tour, quickly gaining a reputation for highly emotional and energetic live shows. Heavily influenced by art theory, modern poetry, politics, history, and science fiction, Closer spent time honing their sound and aesthetic before recording All This Will Be with Steve Roche at Permanent Hearing Damage in Philadelphia, PA. It was released in January 2018 by Middle Man Records, Lauren Records, and Conditions Records.
The band played a series of local release shows, but their national tour to promote the record was cut short after just one show by a health emergency. Around the same time, Ryann and Matt moved to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, respectively, while Griffin remained in Brooklyn. Transitioning to being a long distance band was somewhat difficult, as time together for experimentation and editing was greatly constricted. Practicing in other people’s spaces, basements, and study rooms, Closer continued to write and play shows less frequently but consistently, sharing bills with bands like Hundreds of AU, Soul Glo, Frail Body, Shin Guard, and Infant Island, among others. In the summer of 2019 the band was invited to play the Miss the Stars Fest in Berlin and The Ultimate Screamo Fest II in Warsaw, and also did a European tour surrounding the fests.
Within One Stem comes in the wake of a major emergency, in the aftershock of heartbreak, and following monumental shifts in identity and daily life. While the band spoke of All This Will Be as very intentionally inspired by screamo heavyweights like City of Caterpillar, Circle Takes the Square, and Touche Amore, Within One Stem takes on a wider range of influences, from the heavier sound of bands like Nine of Swords or Gouge Away to the more melodic sounds of At the Drive-In or Rainer Maria. Here there is more space for melody and introspective, quiet moments, which are folded in with riffy refrains, staccato rhythms, and desperate vocals.
The record’s lyrics are still emotionally driven and laden with references, and manage to be both more specific and more complex than the often cryptic lines of All This Will Be. References to other works run the gamut; “937” borrows its title and partial lyrics from the plot of Ridley Scott’s 1977 film Alien and also quotes Bright Eyes, borrowing a line that becomes very meta in its new context. The title “Within One Stem” comes from an element of Vladimir Nabokov’s 1962 novel Pale Fire, which is referenced in Denis Villeneuve’s 2017 film Bladerunner 2049. Brimming with grief, resentmentment, and urgency, lyrics are often pitched to the void, asking of both those in power and the general human collective: “Who will pay the cost of kindness?” “What stakes, who can say?”