Review: Witxes – Sorcery/Geography (Humanist Recordings, 2012)

If David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks” were completely devoid of the comedic moments (which means Andy and Lucy gone and agent Cooper not making cracks about pie and coffee, oh no!) and instead focused even more on the grief and horror aspect of the story (I always thought major Briggs and Windom Earle should be far more developed as characters, they had so much goddamn potential, but I digress), the sounds of French ambientalist Maxime Vavasseur (a.k.a. Witxes) might be a good soundtrack for the series. Witxes takes the shady jazzy edge of Angelo Badalamenti and infuses it with harsh, monolithic ambience not much unlike the music of Tim Hecker, taking the best of both worlds and ending up with a monumentally emotional album, sad and haunting at the same time.

Take the very first track, “Unlocation”, as an example – the shoegazy wall of ambience suddenly breaking into a distant, lonely saxophone solo and free jazzy drumming, finally giving a way for emotional acoustic guitar strumming. There are many, many layers of sound on “Sorcery/Geography” and with each subsequent listening another layer is unveiled. What appears to be hazy, noisy drone jam at first, gradually turns out to be a thoroughly melodic and skillfully composed piece, complete with a heart-rending piano section or beautiful saxophone playing. The dark and moody “Somewhere” sounds like the love child of Bohren & der Club of Gore and Barn Owl, while the extreme bass experience of “Misscience” might recall the sonic horror of Lustmord.

The inspirations behind Witxes’ music are all over the map – stemming from ambient music idea of creating “background” music, Vavasseur moves it far away from being merely wallpaper music and forces a focused, intense attention from the listener. Don’t get distracted by the seemingly obliterating wall of sound – give it a few more tries and hear the beauty unveil under the glacier of drones.


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