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Esben and the Witch / February 2017 English Tour

 
By on Tuesday, 6th December 2016 at 9:00 am
 

Esben and the Witch might have relocated from Brighton to Berlin, but the gothic-rock trio have homecoming plans for early next year, as they tour in support of their recent album ‘Older Terrors’. The album was released on the 4th of November via Season of Mist. You can have a listen to album track ‘Marking the Heart of a Serpent’ just below the tour date listing.

The following live dates are part of Esben and the Witch’s larger European tour; a full listing of upcoming shows can be found on their official Facebook. Tickets are available now. TGTF’s complete previous coverage of Esben and the Witch is back this way.

Saturday 18th February 2017 – London Electrowerkz
Monday 20th February 2017 – Bristol Exchange
Tuesday 21st February 2017 – Manchester Soup Kitchen
Wednesday 22nd February 2017 – Brighton Hope and Ruin

[youtube]https://youtu.be/68Fvtl7PO9Y[/youtube]

 

Album Review: Esben and the Witch – Older Terrors

 
By on Friday, 2nd December 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo by William van der Voort

Esben and the WitchAll three members of gothic rock trio Esben and the Witch, Thomas Fisher (guitar/keyboards), Daniel Copeman (electronics/guitars) and Rachel Davies (vocals), have recently relocated to Berlin from their former base in Brighton. Along with the geographic broadening of their horizons, the band appear to have expanded their musical boundaries as well. Their latest release ‘Older Terrors’ looks, on the surface, like an EP, with only four songs on its tracklisting. But its total running time of 46 minutes is actually lengthier than both of the last two albums I’ve recently reviewed. (For reference, Skinny Lister’s ‘The Devil, the Heart & the Fight’ packed 12 concise songs into 36 minutes, and Bell X1’s ‘Arms’ kept to a svelte 9 tracks and 38 minutes.)

What does this mean? Have Esben and the Witch recorded four exceptionally prolonged alt-pop songs, or have they composed four miniature symphonies? I wasn’t familiar with the band before listening to ‘Older Terrors’, and I found it difficult to answer that question without context. My ambiguous first impressions of the album were of dramatic, slowly evolving musical arrangements geared toward creating a dark, ominous ambience, and a singer whose voice is by turns ethereally beautiful and emotionally tortured, often a blend of both.

A quick virtual trip through TGTF’s archive of past coverage on Esben and the Witch served to confirm my initial thoughts. In a a 2010 Bands to Watch feature, our writer remarked that “lead singer Rachel’s voice does, at times, bear a strong similarity to that of Florence Welch”. A review of the band’s debut LP ‘Violet Cries’ talks about the “Brighton trio’s fixation with darkness . . . feelings of dread and solemnity, [and] the overriding sensuality of it all.” Editor Mary used the words “eerie”, “sinister” and “haunting” to describe videos from Esben and the Witch’s second LP ‘Wash the Sins Not Only the Face’ and the phrase “stark and forlorn” to describe ‘Dig Your Fingers In’, the first single from third album ‘A New Nature’.

Looking back upon ‘A New Nature’, we can see Esben and the Witch starting to explore longer, and more expansive musical arrangements: two songs on that record are over 10 minutes long, and three others are over 6 minutes in duration. With ‘Older Terrors’, the band has completely set aside any preconceived notions of writing songs within a 3-minute box, instead choosing to develop musical ideas in a fashion more typical of classical composers than rock musicians.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/Aa0jVxNcg8Q[/youtube]

Opening song ‘Sylvan’ is comprised of three distinct sections, Davies’ serpentine vocal melody weaving through each, loosely holding them together with a series of indistinct but strangely evocative words and phrases. The primitive drum beat and slow harmonic tempo of section one gives way through an extended guitar riff to a stark, anticipatory middle section and ultimately to a dynamic and dramatic climax in the third and final section.

The minor key Spanish guitar melody warms but doesn’t disguise the sinister undertones in ‘Marking the Heart of a Serpent’. Davies’ vocal tone is once again light and limber in the fluid melodic line, almost hypnotic in quality, and it leads the unsuspecting listener to a bit of a shock in the dynamic attack of the song’s middle section. The lyricless instrumental frenzy of section three stretches into a coda that runs out of steam rather than coming to a conclusive finish.

‘The Wolf’s Sun’ opens with the protracted growl of guitars and singularly Gothic-sounding lyrics: “so lead me through the dark / your fingers clawing at my heart / clutching me against your breast / inside your crook, I’ll lay my head”. The hypnotic initial combination of steady bass ostinato and amorphous vocal melody evolves into a surprisingly groove-based middle section, and a positively primal freak out at the song’s end.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/HRBlcefrWbs[/youtube]

Closing track ‘The Reverist’ opens with a slow, hazy instrumental prelude that evokes a vague visual idea of gradually emerging from shadow into a dim and misty light. Davies’ middle section lyrics, however, twist the narrative into something more sinister with the repeated phrase “ships on fire”. The musical arrangement follows suit, growing more and more agitated before it descends into the depths of its own eventual demise.

The broadly experimental nature of ‘Older Terrors’ is to be applauded, even if the songs themselves occasionally stretch past the point of cohesion. To use a drama-related analogy, which seems appropriate for such an inherently dramatic set of songs, there are moments where the plot wears a bit thin, and its devices, in this case the instrumental arrangements, become overly convoluted. Nevertheless, ‘Older Terrors’ leaves in its wake a post-apocalyptic sense of utter stillness and of dark, delicate beauty. A massively impressive effort, and for myself, an indelible first impression.

7/10

‘Older Terrors’, the fourth album from Esben and the Witch, is available now via Season of Mist. TGTF’s complete past coverage of Esben and the Witch is collected through here.

 

Video of the Moment #1612: Esben and the Witch

 
By on Thursday, 28th August 2014 at 6:00 pm
 

Esben and the Witch are readying themselves for the release of their third full-length album ‘A New Nature’ on the 8th of September on Nostromo Records.

Ahead of that, they’ve unveiled the video for a taster from the new LP, filmed in one shot. The visuals in ‘Dig Your Fingers In’, directed by Sim Warren, are as stark and forlorn as we’ve come to know as the sound of this Brighton trio. Watch the video below.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-m1NxD_V3E[/youtube]

 

Video of the Moment #1312: Esben and the Witch

 
By on Thursday, 5th September 2013 at 6:00 pm
 

Esben and the Witch‘s new video is for the song ‘Iceland Spar’, the opening track from their current album ‘Wash The Sins Not Only The Face’. It’s a montage of the band’s footage of their European tour back in May 2013. Watch it below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-jpO6tuEg0[/youtube]

 

Video of the Moment #1113: Esben and the Witch

 
By on Sunday, 3rd February 2013 at 10:00 am
 

Male interpretative dancing while the sun goes down in the highlands? Don’t mind if I do, Esben and the Witch. This video is for the haunting ‘Despair’, off their new album ‘Wash the Sins Not Only the Face’ released last week on Matador.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEVFw74iOd8[/youtube]

 

Video of the Moment #1076: Esben and the Witch

 
By on Wednesday, 19th December 2012 at 6:00 pm
 

Esben and the Witch‘s second album ‘Wash the Sins Not Only the Face’ will be released on the 21st of January 2013 on Matador. Here is the first taster of the new album, in the form of ‘Deathwaltz’. Despite its title, gone is the eerie, sinister feeling you got watching ‘Marching Song’ and ‘Warpath’. Watch the new video for ‘Deathwaltz’ below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w61LU6AvvPo[/youtube]

 
 
 

About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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