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A Musical Peak Inside Witch House

28 Apr

Witch House is a darkly atmospheric electronic music microgenre that began to take shape in the late 2000’s/early 10’s.  Its influence can be seen bubbling up to the more mainstream surface in pop music hits like Katy Perry’s Dark Horse or the edgier music and style of Billie Eilish. A worldwide phenomenon, it took a spoonful of Goth, a pinch of Ethereal, and a helping of Trap and combined it into a spooky electrobrew decorated with occult imagery that would be a bit overwrought if not for the fact that the bands never seem to entirely be taking themselves too seriously.  One of my favorites, that is pretty exemplary of the genre, is Australian artist, Goo Munday’s, Eyes. Thanks to streaming a lot of DJs on Twitch during the Pandemic Shut Down, I’ve grown fond of Witch House, which some of my favorites mixed in with their Industrial and Goth sets. I thought I’d take a quick look behind the curtain into the mysterious Witch House with six artists, whose work has been labeled as being part of the genre (though as often time is true with music, they are all uniquely individual in their own right).  You can stream their music from Hoopla or Freegal.

Ic3peak
Many Witch House bands incorporate unusual spellings of their names, songs, or album titles using things like triangles and Unicode symbols.  Hence the spelling of one of my favorite Witch House bands Ic3peak.  Ic3peak formed in 2013, in Russia, by duo Anastasiya Kreslina and Nikolay Kostylev. They have recorded songs in both English and Russian, although much of their more recent music is in the later.  Sometimes categorized as rap, Anastasiya’s vocals although at times sung, other times more resemble chanting. Freegal features several of their albums.  Some of their more popular tracks are Плак-Плак (Boo-Hoo), Марш (Marching), and Смерти Больше Нет (Death No More). If you are a fan of South African experimental electronic rap act Die Antwoord, this could be a new favorite.

Δaimon
Δaimon, frequently spelled as Aaimon consists of the San Diego couple Brant Showers and Nancy Lutz. I found their self-titled album, available to stream from Freegal, suspenseful and majestic with haunting vocals. You can also check out EPs and remixes of songs including a terrific version of Exu Rei, remixed by popular Witch House artist, Mr. Kitty.

Sidewalks & Skeletons
The United Kingdom’s Sidewalks and Skeletons is the solo-project of Jake Lee, who started his career as a metal guitarist, before focusing on creating dark electronic music and to me you can see some of his early influence in the metal genre in his current work.  You can check out the Sidewalks & Skeletons track Exhume on the Occult Box Compilation from Cleopatra that also offers up a sample of other delightfully macabre music which is worth a listen.

Pastel Ghost
Austin, Texas based Vivian Moon is the force behind Pastel Ghost. I enjoy Pastel Ghost’s distorted vocals which makes me think of a more electro-rave form of the shoegaze, I loved back in the 90’s. Pastel Ghosts is a bit more ethereal and a little less spooky than some others on this list. Freegal features a plethora of Pastel Ghost’s work including a remix of Shadows done by Sidewalks and Skeletons as well as a version done by Mr. Kitty.

Crystal Castles
Crystal Castles are a Canadian group whose name came from a commercial for a toy for She-Ra’s castle, which included the lines “The fate of the world is safe in Crystal Castles” and “Crystal Castles, the source of all power.”  Probably the most well known of the bands I’m writing about, you can borrow all four of their albums from Hoopla and at some BCCLS Libraries. The sprinkle of video game like noises in some of their songs has also had their music described as Ninetendocore. If you enjoy fellow Canadian avant-garde singer Grimes, then Crystal Castles is definitely one for you to check out.

Blvck Ceiling
Dan Cuccia known by Blvck Ceiling is from Spokane, Washington.  You can check out his album Throne from Hoopla Digital. I saw one review comparing it to the soundtrack of a Dungeon Crawler and I could definitely see this one adding some ambience to your next Dungeons and Dragons game. My favorite track off the album is Key to the Garden.

Are you a fan of Witch House? Share some of your favorite bands and their songs in our comments!

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Information and Digital Services

Writing Prompt: Music Inspiration

12 Jun

Music is often a soundtrack in our lives, the music playing on the radio the last day of school before summer, the song we dance to at our wedding, the lullabies our mom sang to us and that we sing to our own children.  Some of my favorite author’s like Carrie Vaughn in her Kitty Norville series include playlists of music that was inspirational in writing the story or that goes particularly well with different scenes in the book.  I’ve enjoyed a lot of her picks including Mr. Brightside by the Killers in Kitty Takes a Holiday.

For this week’s Writing Prompt listen to some of your favorite music and see what it inspires.  What type of romance does your favorite love song put you in mind of?  Maybe that Metal Ballad will inspire a dark fantasy story or that quirky pop hit could have the next great American novel hiding in it.  Don’t just think about the lyrics, but also the sound of the music, what could you imagine happening that would accompany it. Let your imagination go wild.  You do not necessarily need to have the story be what one would necessarily expect from the music.  Look at how the pop music of Scandinavian band Abba became a hit musical set on a Greek Island.  You can have each song represent a chapter of a novel or simply let the music play in the background as you work on a short story.

Of course, this writing prompt works great in reverse too. If you are a musician you can take inspiration from an author’s book or poem.  What type of sound do you imagine accompanying your favorite novel; break out your favorite instrument and create the perfect soundrtrack.  You could even think of transforming an older, no longer in copyright, poem into a song.  You can hear two very different versions of Poe’s Annabelle Lee, one rock and one classical available from Freegal Music.

Hoboken Library patrons can find inspiration in the many ebooks and streaming music the library provides.

We hope you have enjoyed our Friday Writing Prompts! As the library gets ready to ramp up to our reopening we will be going back to one weekly post on Wednesday, but for those that have enjoyed our Writing Inspiration posts we will continue to feature them occasionally. Best luck on all your writing endeavors!

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Information and Digital Services

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