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Album Review: Esben and the Witch – Violet Cries

By on Thursday, 24th February 2011 at 12:00 pm

Words by Natalie Stas

Esben and the Witch‘s nightmarish debut album ‘Violet Cries’ breathes life into a resurge of all things Gothic, walking hand in hand with the recent popularity of the vampire, wine-stained lips and black velvet. But amid all the press accolades and their shortlisting on the BBC Sound of 2011, don’t assume this places the band anywhere near Chris Moyles or primetime radio. The album is crawling in familiar Gothic signifiers: witches, plague, death and a real sense of despair. This Brighton trio’s fixation with darkness is not full of irony, resentment or rooted in commercial angst: their melodies rumble in ambience, evoke feelings of dread and solemnity, only to be challenged by the overriding sensuality of it all.

The most prominent track is ‘Marine Fields Glow’, and in true Gothic tradition, atmosphere becomes everything. Singer Rachel Davies’s heart-shattering lyrics are transfixed in conflicts between love and war compelling even the most foreboding narcissists. This constant battle between opposites continues in ‘Hexagon IV’, where light fluttering guitars and beautiful percussion are submerged in dark shadowy dynamics. The trio carve an eerie fairy-tale aesthetic and you can almost imagine yourself in the foggy fjords of Scandinavia, or playing the lead in a Scorsese film. Davies’s bewitching voice will not fail to draw listeners into her ethereal realm.

‘Violet Cries’ has a bone-chilling sound that is simply masterful, and the attention to detail separates this album from just a mere East London fashion trend. Their only real defeat is the struggle to form a constant; songs begin to blur as delicacies of the guitars lack the ability to see it through, eventually melting into distant cries. But if you’re willing to embrace music that doesn’t replicate the formulaic, or isn’t always accessible, then you won’t be disappointed.


‘Violet Cries’ by Esben and the Witch is available now from Matador.


Esben and the Witch / April 2011 UK Tour

By on Friday, 11th February 2011 at 9:00 am

Brighton’s Esben and the Witch, currently on tour in the UK with Trophy Wife now, have announced even more dates for April. They just released their debut album, ‘Violet Cries’, last month on Matador Records. Tickets for April are available now.

Friday 1st April 2011 – Southampton Joiners
Saturday 2nd April 2011 – Oxford Jericho
Sunday 3rd April 2011 – Liverpool Kazimer
Monday 4th April 2011 – Glasgow Stereo
Wednesday 6th April 2011 – Leeds Cockpit
Thursday 7th April 2011 – Manchester St. Philips Church


Video of the Moment #393: Esben and the Witch

By on Thursday, 27th January 2011 at 6:00 pm

Here is Esben and the Witch‘s video for ‘Warpath’. This band has always been a bit creepy and ghoulish to be as it is, so I guess it’s only appropriate that those adjective apply to this video as well.



Esben and the Witch / January and February 2011 UK Tour

By on Monday, 3rd January 2011 at 9:00 am

Esben and the Witch will be playing a series of dates in January and February.

Monday 31st January 2011 – Bristol Louisiana
Tuesday 1st February 2011 – Brighton Pavillion Theatre
Thursday 3rd February 2011 – Newcastle Other Rooms
Friday 4th February 2011 – Edinburgh Sneaky Pete’s
Saturday 5th February 2011 – Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Monday 7th February 2011 – Sheffield Harley
Tuesday 8th February 2011 – Birmingham Hare and Hounds
Wednesday 9th February 2011 – London XOYO Upstairs


Bands to Watch #193: Esben and the Witch

By on Tuesday, 31st August 2010 at 12:00 pm

Describing their approach to writing recently, Esben and the Witch said that “any great piece of music should be like any great landscape: multi-faceted, subtle in places, extraordinary and ultimately exhilarating”. Which is as good a starting point as any when trying to sum up the output of this precocious Brighton three-piece. Using gothic atmospherics and taking inspiration from sources spanning Danish fairytales and the plays of Aeschylus, they build their glacial landscape around you as you listen.

While lead singer Rachel’s voice does, at times, bear a strong similarity to that of Florence Welch, more suitable comparisons can be made with the albums ‘Hounds of Love’ by Kate Bush and ‘Is This Desire’ by PJ Harvey. In both albums (as in the songs of Esben and the Witch) the environment itself, hills and valleys, wind and rain, plays an active role, shaping and overseeing events as they unfold. Going beyond the fact that all are led by strong female voices, the sense of rural isolation and superstition evoked by those albums also permeates the work of this extraordinary act.

Having recently earned a place in the indie Ivy League with Matador Records, their upcoming American tour could well be the start of something special. The video for their upcoming, limited-edition 12” ‘Marching Song’, below, is well worth a look, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we start to see a lot more of these three faces pretty soon.



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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 was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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