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Esben and the Witch
A New Nature

 Esben and the Witch — A New Nature (September 1, 2014)

  Esben and the Witch — A New Nature

 π   A thrilling risk of a third LP… / This Brighton, England trio’s dark pop recalls Portishead, Bat for Lashes, and Kate Bush.
π   Tento záznam je mistrovským dílem, navíc vizuálně vděčným pro představivost. Je to úžasné, vyvolá pocit arytmie, vede vás až na pokraj zástavy srdce — je to skutečně reálné nebezpečí. V jiném smyslu: je to post–rock zbaven uniformity. Jsme na fuzzy–kytarové vycházce, hodnostní nárameníky tato hudba nepotřebuje. Vojenská hodnost definuje postavení a pravomoci vojáka v hierarchii armády. Zde je ‘džungle’ nejdelší skladbou, koupeme se ve světle a nejúžasnější finále uslyšíme v “Blood Teachings”. Toto dnes už neumí ani Sabbath. Vztyčené nosníky mostů se zkroutí, následuje děsivý skřípot železa jakoby ozvěnou skrz vnitřní hodnotící systém, nové poznání. Občas můžete být ve středu toho všeho, vyhýbáte se bušícím troskám, ale na jiných místech, třeba v “Those Dreadful Hammers”, pouze neparalyzovaně sedíte a pozorujete zkázu z povzdálí.
π   Spousta prvních posluchačů si všimla podobností mezi ranými věcmi PJ Harvey a “A New Nature”. Možná, že to jsou pouze vzkazy. Berete–li záznam píseň po písni, pak to není album, z kterého má být jen tak uždibováno. Nechte se s Esben and the Witch přetáhnout pod vlnami; odhoďte obavy. Nechtějí vám ublížit, ani působit bolest. Chtějí transformaci. Povstání. War. Rachel Davies, Daniel Copeman a Thomas Fisher. 
Location: Brighton, England
Album release: September 1, 2014
Recorded: 2014 / Electrical Audio (Chicago)
Record Label: Nostromo
Duration:     55:52
1. Press Heavenwards!   10:17
2. Those Dreadful Hammers   3:34
3. Dig Your Fingers In   4:39
4. No Dog   6:02
5. The Jungle   14:32
6. Wooden Star   6:51
7. Blood Teachings   7:55
8. Bathed In Light   2:02
π   Rachel Davies
π   Daniel Copeman
π   Thomas Fisher
π   In early 2014, the band left Matador Records and made their own label Nostromo Records. They pledged on PledgeMusic, which is an online Direct–to–Fan music platform that facilitates musicians reaching out to their fanbase to pre–sell, market, and distribute music projects including recordings, music videos, and concerts. On PledgeMusic they put pre–orders for their third album up, in which some include a hand-made bonus EP called And New Life Blossoms From the Ruins, and the money went towards the recording costs.
π   On April 7, 2014, they released an untitled split EP with Thought Forms, featuring two songs “No Dog” and “Butoh”. On April 7, they performed “No Dog” and two new songs “Dig Your Fingers In” and “Those Dreaful Hammers” on BBC Radio 6. They began recording with Steve Albini in April 2014 at Electrical Audio studios in Chicago. Their song “Strangers In a Sunless Valley” was featured on the third Audioscope Music For A Good Home compilation in May.
π   They announced the album in June 2014, and have released the first single from the album “Blood Teachings” on iTunes. The album is scheduled to be released on 1 September 2014.
Laurie Tuffrey | June 24th, 2014, 11:39
π   Steve Albini–recorded “A New Nature”; LP out in September, followed by London show.
π   Brighton trio Esben and the Witch return on September 1 with A New Nature, first album on their own label Nostromo. The record, their third album, following last year’s Wash the Sins Not Only the Face, and their second release of 2014 after a split with Thought Forms in April, marks something of a change of tact for the band. It’s also been recorded by the well–worn, expert hands of Steve Albini, no less, at his Chicago studio Electrical Audio. Most significantly, it sees the band stripping back their sound and taking out a lot of the electronic matter, instead forging even more expansive songs (the album’s centrepiece is the near–15–minute ‘The Jungle’) in raw, more live–feeling sonics. ‘Blood Teachings’ is a good case in point, with its Swans–esque heaving repetition providing a soundbed over which Rachel Davies unfurls a mesmeric vocal, not dissimilar to former Albini collaborator PJ Harvey, building to a razing, fuzzed crescendo.
π   Say the band: “We wanted to create a record that had a level of purity to it. To strip away the layers and loops and see what lay beneath. To keep things naked, unadorned and raw. The three of us, in a room, making noise. We looked to create a more primal record, full of human emotion and sonic intensity. Drawing on themes of endurance, strength, determination and self–actualisation. Themes that have always inspired us but perhaps, only now, a few years down the line, a few years of touring under our belts, we feel we have the confidence and maturity to explore and shout about.” (http://thequietus.com/)

By BENJAMIN BLAND | September 1st, 2014 | Score: 8
π   It’s always strange to watch the development of a band from their first release onwards. Looking back to 2009, and remembering the skeletal foundations Esben and The Witch built on debut EP 33, it’s not only remarkable to see where they've ended up but also rather surprising. This was a band who, on their early releases, used frailty as their greatest strength. Now, with the Steve Albini-engineered A New Nature, the Brighton-based trio have refined their sound to a point where it is leaner, but more powerful, than ever.
π   ‘No Dog’, previously released on a split LP with Thought Forms earlier this year, is a case in point. Rattling along with propulsive bass and thunderous drums, only Thomas Fisher’s guitar really screams of subtlety. Even Rachel Davies’s fragile vocals sound tougher, as if there’s a fresh fire burning deep inside her. Her declaration that “I am no dog, I am a wolf” is an almost frightening cry of intent, of significance and of domination.
π   This is a welcome change from a group that, despite their obvious talents as songwriters and musicians, have occasionally sounded brittle as opposed to resolute. Indeed, 2013’s Wash the Sins Not Only the Face displayed a band sounding somewhat trapped between focused arrangements and dreamy atmospherics, failing to convincingly bridge the, often wide, gap between the two. On A New Nature these concerns are rendered mute by the dexterity of the trio’s songwriting.
π   Opener ‘Press Heavenwards’ is a ten–minute excursion that begins with a neat Godspeed!–influenced post–rock introduction and switches comfortably through the gears over its lengthy duration. It sets out the modus operandi for the album as a whole. The atmosphere of the songs remains at least as important to the band as their actual construction, that much is clear, but that doesn’t mean these pieces aren’t better put together than those on previous releases.
π   The epics of the album, ‘Press Heavenwards’ and ‘Jungle’ — the latter of which stretches on for a colossal 14 minutes — demonstrate this perfectly. Climactic bursts of Swans, usually relying on the muscular drumming of Daniel Copeland, meld with the slow build of Talk Talk to create long form pieces that, although obviously indebted to musical pioneers of the diverse Eighties post–punk landscape, rely on a rather brusque sonic profile, referencing the classic Albini Nineties sound.
π   The result is a collection of tracks that seamlessly blend two eras of song based musical experimentation, something which, in itself, gives Esben and The Witch a contemporary personality of their own. The obvious comparison to these ears, and not just because of Davies’s vocals, is Portishead’s Third, another album which saw a band pursue a diverse selection of musical influences with increased clarity and purpose, albeit whilst willingly sacrificing some of their previous sonic characteristics.
π   A similar approach here has paid dividends for Esben and The Witch. Since 33 everything the band has done feels like it has fallen slightly short of the group’s potential. Whilst the ‘gothic rock’ vibe prominent on debut full–length Violent Cries is still apparent in the moody terrain that Esben and the Witch are still working in, A New Nature breathes more freely than anything this group has ever produced before and, as such, showcases a more confident and coherent band than one may reasonably have expected. (http://drownedinsound.com/)
Words: James Evans | 28 · 08 · 2014 | Score: 7/10
π   A thrilling risk of a third LP…
π   Having left Matador after the bewitching soundscapes of last year’s ‘Wash The Sins Not Only The Face’ LP, Brighton trio Esben And The Witch www.clashmusic.com/tags/esben-and-the-witch released a split LP with blues–rock act Thought Forms. Expanding on the primal alt-rock surge of the standout track from that set, ‘No Dog’, ‘A New Nature’ sees them leaving behind their gloomy, shoegaze-style arrangements for a raw, menacing voyage.
π   Helmed by Steve Albini, the formidable highpoint ‘Dig Your Fingers In’ (video below) combines his trademark abrasive production with Rachel Davies’s yearning, Liz Fraser–like vocals. Dark and sprawling centrepiece ‘The Jungle’ could feel overproduced, but its tribal beats and dissonant guitars build their way into an epic, urgent climax. Most striking of all is the sparse dream–folk of ‘Bathed In Light’, which sounds like the piercing intimacy of ‘Is This Desire?’–period PJ Harvey being covered by Mazzy Star.
Too often though, the band’s shimmering melodic sensibility gets buried under a distorted wall of sound, making potentially beautiful tracks like ‘Blood Teachings’ come across as plodding and overlong. The pounding scuzz of ‘Those Dreadful Hammers’ becomes too caught up in sounding experimental and feels like a half–realised idea. These tracks also suggest that Davies’s airy, vulnerable tones might be more suited to the swirling studio trickery of previous albums.
π   Despite ‘A New Nature’’s ominous sound feeling hackneyed at times, EATW retain the fearless, forward–thinking ethic of their first two records through themes of finding strength in adversity, impassioned vocals and unpredictable sonic outbursts. Overall, it’s a thrilling risk. Fortaken: http://www.clashmusic.com/
Robert Cooke | Score: 7/10
Only Steve Albini's production lets down this dramatic third from the gothic Brighton trio
π  http://www.nme.com/reviews/esben-and-the-witch--2/15601
By Tim Lee | posted on 2 Sep 2014 | Score: ****½
π  http://www.musicomh.com/reviews/albums/esben-witch-new-nature
BY LAURENCE DAY | 26 AUGUST 2014, 13:30 BST | SCORE. 8.5/10
π   http://www.thelineofbestfit.com/reviews/albums/esben-and-the-witch-a-new-nature  
π   Violet Cries (2011)
π   Wash the Sins Not Only the Face (2013)
π   A New Nature (2014)

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