“I am really interested in expanding upon the limits that we live in – how we are defined – and it is an experiment,” Janine Rostron mentioned in a 2011 interview with Dummy. And although some of her Planningtorock stage cadences are a bit, well, expanding, her more recent aspirations have been more achievable. Since launching Human Level, her own record label as an offshoot of DFA Records (James Murphy is said to be her biggest fan), Ronston has taken it upon herself to shatter social norms and champion equality for women.
On HL001, a split 12” featuring her a-side “Patriarchy Over & Out,” Ronston blends her twisted falsetto and trip-hop inspired electronic beats into something that’s altogether overpowering. “Patriarchal life, you’re out date / Patriarchal life, get out of the way,” she repeats over the unrelenting pulses. Screeching and howling in ways on Ronston could make attractive, “Patriarchy Over & Out” is the kind of 21st Century protest record that proves music is more than skin deep.
Human Level 001. Planningtorock – “Patriarchy Over & Out” b/w rRoxymore – “Wheel of Fortune”
Enter “Misxgyny Drxp Dead,” the second single on Human Level, slated for release on March 8th. The track finds Ronston once again campaigning for social change, this time with her vocals as the driving force. What initially comes off as abrasive at best, the screams of “Take, take, take, take” eventually become a sort of war cry against idealism. While it becomes completely self aware towards the end, it’s never in a way that breaks the fourth wall, a subtle shift that allows Ronston to make the track feel more like an exercise in speech. No doubt one of the most distinctive songs in recent memory, “Misxgyny Drxp Dead” is somehow one of the catchiest as well. “Public Love” and “Agender,” the two b-sides on the single, function as much darker and more instrumental driven orchestrations, complementing “Misxgyny Drxp Dead” while continuing to expand Ronston’s evolving palate.
So rarely does an artist crusade for equality or evolution in such overt fashion, but such is the way of Planningtorock. From the way Ronston presents herself on stage to the way she so dedicates herself to crushing identity norms on record and in the press, Human Level has so far provided a tremendous soapbox for such action.