Witching Waves – Crystal Café

Photo by David Garcia

Photo by David Garcia

Of the albums most anticipated by our particular ears was one from UK duo Witching Waves. They had us on line with their ltd edition cassette Concrete/Chain Of Command in 2014 and inescapably hooked with debut album Fear Of Falling Down later that same year but things have just got contagiously fiercer and even more sonically fascinating courtesy of their second full-length Crystal Café. It is a stunning roar of sonic and emotional dissonance fuelled by cutting hooks and feverish melodies, and that is not to forget the ever darkly mesmeric and often challenging lure of the vocals.

A mix of corrupted psych and surf rock fever with punk and post punk attitude, the Witching Waves’ sound mighty be better suggested by casting it as a union of the punk antagonism of The Raincoats and the garage punk ‘n’ roll devilry of The Creeping Ivies in collusion with the raw and virulent off-kilter pop of The Adult Net , Morningwood, and Delta 5. To be truthful, the London band has a sound which has always been its own individual but now forcibly so on Crystal Café. Intrigue for what the band will reveal next is always company to eager anticipation and indeed expectations, and it was no exception this time around, especially with the duo of founding members, vocalist/guitarist Mark Jaspar and vocalist Emma Wigham, having grown by one with the addition of bassist Ed Shellard since that previous impressive album.

Crystal Café opens up with Twister, a song shedding drama with its first surge of guitar. As it hits a heady stride with scything beats lining the brooding bassline of Shellard, the track has ears and imagination onside with ease, even more so as the siren like tones of Wigham collude with Jaspar’s sonic tendrils, all hot spice and raw flirtation. Not for the last time, a scent of The Cure certainly hits the rhythmic side of a song, adding appealing hues which engagingly merge with the fiery enterprise of guitar and voice.

art_RingMaster ReviewThe outstanding start continues in the concussively seductive Seeing Double, a roar of scuzzy guitar and alluring vocals with a sniff of almost Xmal Deutschland like post punk coldness. It is a grouchy encounter, epitomised by Jaspar’s aggressive vocal outbursts, but simultaneously also a raw melodic enticement which simply grips the imagination.

The following Pitiless uncages an anthemic rumble of rhythms as Wigham’s captivating vocals get entangled in the citric lines of just as compelling guitar spawned imagination. Juicy hooks are as frequent as searing sonic endeavour, being caught up in a bracing infectiousness which has the body jerking and senses wilting, though they do get respite from the alluring repetition sculpted instrumental Red Light Loop that follows. It is the first of a few imagination sparking interludes, a break before the raw trespass of contagion continues, in this case with Make It Up. There is a Wire like quality to the song which only adds to the pop catchy theatre that evolves to seriously excite and involve the listener. The track is as irresistible as a fondle in the shadows; offering a warm moment of pop slavery in the senses whilst they get intruded upon by the dissonance soaked soundscape of the album.

Anemone spreads a portentously melancholic instrumental breeze next, its starkly lit prowl a rising smog of discord as invasive as it is intimidatingly bewitching. The track sets up ears and imagination for The Threat, it a melodically cultured temper to the previous trespass with its boisterous surges of muscular beats and flowing vocal warmth over less kind but as riveting grooves. It too brews into a swarming sonic assault but without losing any of the pungent temptation it began coaxing ears with before the brazen temptress that is the excellent Red Light wraps its raw hunger and salacious beauty all over the listener.

The scathing sonic air and vocal angst of Receiver then takes over, its Jaspar voiced tempest bold exploration of the senses with underlying seduction added by the harmonies of Wigham, whilst after its pleasing encroachment and the evocative caress of instrumental Inoa, the album comes to a mighty close with new single Flowers. Wrapping around a glorious bassline echoing early Cure as crisp beats descend with resonating effect, strings of melodies and atmospheric suggestiveness come together, in turn swiftly joined by a dual smooch of vocals to captivate and entrance to which Wigham further adds her spellbinding lures. As seductive and inviting as it is, the track equally offers a host of descriptive shadows and sonic discordance that fester in thoughts and emotions to fine effect.

The track is an enthralling end to a simply superb release; another from Witching Waves and easily their finest moment yet. Hopefully this time around, the band gets the attention and surge of fresh appetites for their unique sound which previous releases warranted but Crystal Café demands and deserves.

Crystal Café is available on vinyl, cassette, and digital download from released February 26th via Soft Power in the UK and HHBTM Records in the USA.

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Pete RingMaster 26/02/2016

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Witching Waves – Fear Of Falling Down

Witching Waves press small

Having been hooked by the band with their limited edition cassette single Concrete/Chain Of Command earlier this year, there was a fair few tingles running through anticipation with the announcement of the debut album from Witching Waves. Those urges have grown to lustful proportions now that Fear Of Falling Down has infested ears and psyche, the release confirming all the promise and thrills experienced before whilst showing a broader adventure and creative resourcefulness in songwriting and sound.

Hailing from London and formed in 2013 as the brainchild of duo Emma Wigham and Mark Jasper (Sound Savers Recording Studio), Witching Waves through their unrelenting appetite for performing live and songs swiftly drew keen attention their way. Fusing as many essences of punk as you can imagine in a noise and discord sculpted garage pop incitement, the band bridges the DIY essence of the late seventies and the voracious causticity of modern invention; kind of like Swell Maps meets The White Stripes but for a truly unique and tenaciously addictive proposition.

Released via Soft Power Records, Fear Of Falling Down sees the duo now a threesome with the addition of a bassist, though we cannot tell you the name. The band’s fourth release, after Witching Waves LP Cover Artthree cassette singles, is a master class in raw sonic temptation and primal rhythmic slavery; each song united by a certain anthemic swing and creative tenacity yet alone in warped character and discordant agitation. Recorded on to 8 track tape, the album is a minimalistic yet inventively involved incitement, a cavernously toned but intimately delivered protagonist to excite ears and imagination with ease.

The album’s title track is the first to get the juices flowing, the opening jangle of guitar just the prelude to a rhythmically driven slice of agitated pop. The excellent vocals of Wigham soon join the rampancy of drums and the scrub of guitar before Jasper takes over with his equally captivating tones. Virulently catchy with a bounce to match, the track dances with ears and emotions from start to finish; every note, beat, and vocal enterprise simple but expertly creative seduction.

The post punk kissed Cold Out comes next, the contrast of the harmonic elegance and rawer expression of Wigham and Jasper respectively, alone a gripping enticement. In some ways there is an early Siouxsie and the Banshees feel to the song but also the flowing melodic quaintness of a Morningwood, the combination an addictive proposition, though soon surpassed by the poppy endeavour of Better Run. A slight spring of surf rock runs through the garage rock bred song whilst again vocals are as broadly bewitching as the slim but pungent sounds around them. As most tracks on the album, it is hard for feet taps and vocal participation to restrain from joining the band during the progress of its gently cacophonous croon before it makes way for the post punk infused stroll of Counterpoint. With repetitious riffs and infectious rhythmic bait, the song is a more challenging persuasion with its soaking of acidic discord and off key dynamics, but another to leave ears and passions basking.

The raw charm of Concrete comes next, its opening Buzzcocks spiced hook an instant attention grabber whilst a courting stride of rhythms draw their own submissive response. The plain almost disillusioned monotone vocals of Jasper contrast perfectly with the fluid melodies of Wigham, whilst the throaty melancholic bass prowl simply adds an addictive icing to the enthralling coaxing of body and mind. Like an unhinged blend of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Cramps, the song is an aurally dishevelled but controlled temptress, and the perfect appetiser for the brilliance of the following Creeping. Stalking ears with rhythmic eagerness, the song stomps with muscular and concussive beats as riffs and basslines flirt with their own rowdy enterprise. There is for not the first or last time, a similarity to Scottish duo The Creeping Ivies about the band’s sound across the album, here being a potent comparison though again Witching Waves emerge as individual and original in every sonic aspect.

Both the outstanding News, with its hypnotic rhythmic baiting and spicy garage rock keys around a creative drama, and the intrigue drenched Wait Around keeps the adventure of Fear Of Falling Down on its highest plateau. The first of the two is a web of colour rich discordance and imaginative confrontation honed into a ridiculously infectious trap which simply leaves ears, thoughts, and emotions grinning whilst its successor juggles sonic abrasion with warm pop harmonies for another song which takes longer to reach the peaks of others, but only adds to the unpredictable and captivating climate of the release.

Fear Of Falling Down closes with the excellent Barber where garage punk and eighties post punk meet for a contagion filled stamp of punchy beats and wiry hooks aligned to velvety heavy bass lures. It all of course infused with the wonderfully clashing and superbly united vocal attack of Wigham and Jasper.

If Witching Waves have impressed before with their early appetisers then the album offers a fuller and more flavoursome meal of dissonant and melody bred noise. For those new to one of the UK’s most thrilling propositions, Fear Of Falling Down is a sonic lust in the making.

Fear Of Falling Down is available via Soft Power Records as a Limited Edition Vinyl LP (250 Copies) and digital download @ http://softpowerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/fear-of-falling-down

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RingMaster 08/12/2014

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