Militia - The Black Flag Hoisted

The Black Flag Hoisted
Infinite Fog Productions

The most conceptually ambitious record from longstanding martial industrial/power electronics act Militia saw its original 2CD release on Tactical Recordings in 2000. Now, some two decades later The Black Flag Hoisted re-emerges, not so much reissued as re-imagined. Re-recorded almost from scratch some five years ago, this new version of The Black Flag Hoisted reintroduces the Belgian collective’s strident politics and sound.

Then or now, Black Flag Hoisted remains a bracing declaration of Militia’s uncompromising musical style. Deep, brassy drones, historical samples, and sternly barked agitprop are all woven together through Militia’s primary weapon of choice: a host of percussion, some tightly regimented, some spastically chaotic, but almost all of it generated via instrumentation of the group’s own construction. The spatial and timbral range of the metallic and wooden clatter the bass and samples of “Ni Dieu, Ni Maitre” weave their way through is as good an example as any of what Militia are all about. Similarly, the galloping, almost club-like beat of “Anarchist Movement For Collectiv And Direct Action” is augmented with new polyrhythmic percussion, adding a riotous, almost madhouse-like sense of chaos to the lengthy composition.

While the focus on DIY percussion and sampling underscores Militia’s place on both the martial industrial continuum and the tradition set forth by Neubauten and especially Test Dept, the more time one spends with the Militia catalog the more its spiritual connections to noise and power electronics emerge. While you won’t hear fifteen minute tracks of pure feedback, Black Flag Hoisted‘s willingness to jump from one extreme to the other across its twenty-five tracks, the emotion which drives its agenda and its pure refusal to compromise sonically or politically place it in spiritual proximity to those traditions. (Contributions from the likes of Man Is The Bastard and Con-Dom on this new version can’t help but add some noise cred, too.)

Speaking of its agenda, The Black Flag Hoisted acts as a both a clearing house and archive of Militia’s historical and philosophical interests and influences. With the same free-form approach to its thematics as its percussion, the record moves from the Romantic environmental lament of “Bomen” to shout-outs to the Animal Liberation Front to odes to the likes of Kropotkin and Bakunin (and is dedicated to Durutti). Like those of its political influences, Militia’s utopian vision is explosive and sweeping (“Watch the black flag covering the sky / See how it unfolds in a thousand colors”).

Familiarity with the initial release of Black Flag Hoisted will offer long-time listeners some subtle points of comparison, from the aforementioned addition of percussion to less overt changes in mix and focus (the woozy drones beneath the clatter of “Final Statement” are given more of the spotlight on this version). But that existing experience certainly isn’t necessary in order to engage with the scope and power of what Militia are doing here. Strong, strident, and unbowed, it’s as blistering a listen today as it was in its original incarnation.

Buy it.