Esben and the Witch at SXSW 2011 – Photo: Sandra Burciaga
Now this is the kind of music to practice your witchcraft to, perhaps a séance or just some deep meditation (probably the latter). England’s Esben & The Witch are all the mesmerizing dark things you seek outside of this bubblegum-indie pop infested sphere of music. Where bands such as the not-so original radio kings, Foster The People (for example) take reign over less complex and easily amused listeners — Esben & The Witch have always summoned the more intellectual, deep-thinking fan base. I don’t expect them to be gracing the radio waves of any mainstream radio station, any time soon — and that’s the way I like it (snob or not).
With a powerful force of beautiful, almost harrowing orchestrations (and I say harrowing because of their frightening sense of urgency), Esben and the With have released a new digital EP titled, Hexagons. Following the January release of their debut album Violet Cries, the Hexagons EP consists of six brand new tracks, including a re-working of album track “Hexagons IV.” Listening to this macabre array of lovely, yet daunting tracks is like a fight between heaven and hell. Rachel Davies’ angelic vocals take you on a hypnotic journey through the white light, but just as you think you’ve made it to paradise — the festering guitar howls and morbid climax pull you right back down to the dark side.
Songs such as EP opener, “The Fall” instigate a subtle shutter as Davies soft echoes quickly fade out into a dark abyss of white noise that flows into the charming second track, “The Flight.” With Davies’ voice more powerful and urgent, about midway she soars into a repetitive chorus chanting, “So Wild” — it’s almost like a spell. Before heading out into a morbid instrumental deluxe of trembling guitar chords and sonic swirls of ambient noise with track closer “The Thaw,” Esben and the Witch shower your ears with a few more melancholic howls with “The Cast;” a true beauty that shines in its last 40 seconds of life.
Esben and the Witch have created yet another mesmerizing display of music. Although, not for the faint of heart — who seek endlessly catchy, hook-laden pop — but perhaps for those that crave something a bit more exotic, eclectic and out of the norm.
Words: Sandra Burciaga