Esben And The Witch – Violet Cries Esben And The Witch – Violet Cries

Esben And The Witch - Violet Cries

Esben And the Witch is the name of a Danish fairy tale as well as a new band from Brighton England. But we will get to the later. The story of Esben involves a family of boys who seek out their fortune at a youthful age. Esben, who is the youngest, tags along and manages to save every member of his family from various perils involving a witch. The family of boys, who offer no gratitude to their youngest, seek employment with a king. Esben impresses the king by stealing various possessions from the former witch much to the dismay of the jealous kings advisor Sir Red. The story ends with Esben being caught and almost roasted alive by the witches daughter. When the witch’s daughter shows a modicum of sympathy, Esben pushes her in the oven and absconds with the final item. The brothers all receive gold from the king and Esben finally gets the recognition he deserves. This strange, mildly violent, fairytale is an apt metaphor for the English band of the same name. Both are relatively obscure and complex with narratives difficult to understand.

Esben And the Witch has been drawing comparisons to early 80’s Goth rock most notably Siouxsie And The Banshees. This is only because singer Rachel Davies has a mild similarity to the voice of Siouxsi Sioux. A more accurate comparison would be connected to Floodland era Sisters Of Mercy. Much Like Sister Of Mercys, Esben and the Witch surrenders commercial accessibility for the an artistic catharsis — filling the record with reverb, drone and art school aesthetics . The first video for “Marching Song” is a one background shot of the band members receiving progressively worse facial bruises and lacerations. The image of swollen eyes and blood running freely from mouths is usually not image associated with sultry feminine vocals. This video is effective because it displays the frank deposition of the band and their harrowing penchant for violence. Violet Cries is a memorable record. Whether or not this record is any fun to listen to is another conversation entirely.

Esben posses the all the right traits for grabbing an audiences attention. While their voice is loud enough to turn heads, the words which come after fail to keep the for long periods of time. “Marching Song” comes early on the album as it is followed by three or four tracks of heavy abstractions. “Light Streams” and “Hexagons IV” are certainly interesting yet with none of the immediacy as the single. The bands first album, Violet Cries, is much like a high level grad school class where one has missed all the prerequisites. Things are not handed to you rather they lay behind locked doors and imposing hallways. The quality which is eventual realized is anything but pleasing or easy to understand. There is nothing beautiful in Esben and the Witch. The wonder and amazement of abstract dreamscapes are replaced with a cold and hallow wind which whistles through a paneless window.

Violet Cries is not a party record. Nor do I think Esben and the Witch care to be a party band. The album’s unconventional approach to album construction is intriguing the first yet daunting the second and third. This review is coming in with relative tardiness. While the intention of the dealy was not planned, its latent effects are enough to change the review for the better. Sometimes in the frenzied world of music reviews an album could be cast aside with little second thought. To combat this sad fact, a reviewer must be stoic in the face of second guessing. Violet Cries sat in my library maturing with delicate grace. Much like Floodland or some albums with high intellectual yield, the immediacy cannot be projected. I certainly warmed up to Esben’s unorthodox and immaterial persona. Perhaps, at the end of the year, Violet Cries will be met with artistic praise. Perhaps in 20 years, the same album will be met with a hautning legacy. Both could be true or entirely false. We shall just have to wait, and let Violet Cries sit, in a dusty cellar for now.

1. Argyria
2. Marching Song
3. Marine Fields Glow
4. Light Streams
5. Hexagons Iv
6. Chorea
7. Warpath
8. Battlecry/Mimicry
9. Eumenides
10. Swans

One Response about “Esben And The Witch – Violet Cries”

  • Ben Sommer says:

    Bounce around randomly on that soundcloud track and you’ll find 2 times out of 3 the exact same harmony & melody. Add to that the rhythm is static/sclerotic. Sorry man: boring.

    Lovely album cover.