Esben & The Witch
Sprawled out on stage while psychedelic flavoured lighting swirls around the room, Esben and The Witch performance tonight has a lot in common with high end consumer art: to some they will first appear overtly pretentious and elitist but as time passes the worth in what they do soon starts to appear and make sense. They are a trio that are not fascinated by the idea of replicating the sound of the present or the past but are instead fully focused on carving their own niche by taking the 3 minute pop structure, rolling it up and tossing it into the nearest waste disposal. They have hit on a dark sensual cinematic fusion that blends the hi-tech with the traditional, which owes a small debt to both Massive Attack and Portishead, but instead of re-hashing they have deconstructed, tearing away the excesses and remoulding the spine into a slightly leaner, more ethereal sonic melee, before attaching a strong icy voice that is ghostly and haunting. Esben and the Witch may still be very much in their infancy but tonight they deliver a flow of music that would have the Mercury judging panel salivating, their pulses racing and gushing plaudits out one after another.
By Nathan Westley
Originally published in issue 12 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. November 2009