Esben and the Witch - Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh, Fri 4 Feb 2011 (4 stars)

Mood of the past meets the sound of a dark and fearsome future

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Esben and the Witch

It seems, having exhausted all the genres that were good at the time, the powers that decide whose turn it is for a revival next have alighted upon some of history’s also-rans. Here, Brighton’s Matador-signed trio Esben and the Witch go all gloom and Victorian streetlamps in the most sincerely po-faced nu-goth style. Coming soon, no doubt: the new wave of the new wave of new wave.

Hold on, though, because this lot sound both captivating and wholly original without trying too hard to be either. Singer Rachel Davies applies a vocal which is positively spectral and worthy of the melodramatic tone of songs such as ‘Marching Song’ and ‘Eumenides’. Either side of her, Daniel Copeman and Thomas Fisher create sounds that pass from the sanity-baitingly delicate to a meaty type of shoegazing noise and the bleakest of electronic symphonies.

Upon occasion the trio take to just pummelling the same standing drum; at other times their music has the kind of range and subtlety that marks them out as future film score composers. They might capture the mood of years gone by, but their sound is that of a dark and fearsome future.

Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh, Fri 4 Feb

Esben and the Witch - 'Chorea' (Official Video)

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