Western, MA Collective Confronts the Struggle of Creating Home
Loone began as the solo folk work of Noel’le Longhaul in 2013, and has since grown into a collaborative project between the “all-trans quartet” of Longhaul, Nick Berger, Alyssa Kai, and Ruby Opal. The band resides together in a collective house in the woods of Franklin County, MA where they “are attempting to build a sanctuary for ourselves and for many.” The landscape and history of the area has long informed the band’s sound and imagery, from their album covers to the stark intensity of their recordings and live performances. As the band said in a statement, “[Our] work has become necessarily centered in a sense of place: the rural Western MA landscape has become the node of our study of our role in colonialism and white supremacy, and the site of our attempts to reckon with and act upon that study.” Loone’s folk musical vocabulary and rural imagery is not about escapism; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. The band is wholly focused on confronting the harsh realities of history and context, and working from there to build a relationship with oneself and the outside world.
That mission has never been clearer than in their new video “River’s Our Blood,” directed by Nadia Elle Levin. The band harmonizes the words “There’s no world to flee to / Where we are / Is where we’ll stay” as two visual narratives unfold: the first is the construction of Noel’le and her partner Lynx’s installation If We Cannot Belong And May Not Leave, which ran in late fall in Portland, ME at the New Fruit Artists Collective. Their show was “largely an engagement with the moment of white cultural suicide of the witchhunts: Lynx and Noel’le explored their romance, bodies and identities as non-urban trans women to ask what it means to belong exclusively to an irreconcilable history of violence towards women, the environment, and people of color.” The second story follows the process of the band acquiring the collective house in which they now live – named Lupinewood – from the mundane legal aspects through the joy of finally securing and moving into a home.
The song and narratives all combine to create a moving portrait of the never-ending fight for self and place in a world that’s intent on perpetual social, psychical, and emotional displacement. As the band said in a statement, “We use our bodies and our spirits to weave a web of care and collaboration with and for each other, and believe that to be a radical declaration of intent to stay, to live, to fight, and to work…This song, and this video, are love songs to the place we’re from and the places we’re going.”
It’s rare to find a band in any genre possessing such self-reflection and musical skill, and we are blessed to have Loone continuing to send out these audio and visual transmissions from their new home.