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3.9 out of 5 stars
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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Brighton has its own way of throwing up wonderful
little pieces of weirdness from time to time. The
Sussex seaside town has always fostered a spirit of
bohemian independence and tolerance of difference.

Esben and The Witch are a colourful three-piece
ensemble comprising Rachel Davies/Vocals with
Daniel Copeman and Thomas Fisher who together
weave a rich and dense tapestry of sound around
her. Ms Davies has a fine pair of lungs and what
she lacks in accuracy of pitch and tonal colour
she more than makes up for with energy and volume.
(In certain moments she also possesses a plaintive
folksy quality which can be strangely haunting).

The ten songs in the collection are, as befits the
band's name, atmospherically dark and sonically
unsettling. This is music which would be perfecly
at home in shadowy crypts and cloisters, in the
dusty corners of derelict farmsteads and the howling
heart of a windswept forest clearing at midnight, where
unhappy souls struggle to escape the cruel cold grasp of
briar and bracken. Twitchy-witchy music in other words!

Ms Davies is at her unearthly best on a composition such
as 'Marine Fields Glow'. The eerie thematic material gives
her voice room to breath and flow (albeit that she may well
have been wrapped in a shroud during its performance!)
She sounds perfectly happy and at home in the gloom.

In contrast 'Marching Song' hammers out a doom-laden riff
against which she intones like a she-wolf with a grudge to settle.
Behind her the echoing secondary vocal elements whirl and turn
in the air like a vast supporting army of angry ghosts and in
'Light Streams' the very devil seems to have been summoned
to lend his voice to the infernal ritual unfolding before us.

In 'Eumendies' The Furies from Aeschylus' 'Oresteia' are given
musical shape and form in a composition of brutal nightmarish power.
Our bones are made to rattle and the blood turns to ice in our veins.

The title of concluding track 'Swans' suggests that we might be
in for a gentle pastoral ending but Esben and The Witch save the
worst (in the best possible sense) until last and deny us any
possibility of respite from their moribund vision. We are trapped
with them behind the surface of a cracked mirror in a dream from
which we have no hope of ever emerging into the warm light of day.

'Violet Cries' is a truly chilling listening experience!

Recommended to those of a robust emotional disposition.
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 12 February 2011
I went to see Esben and the Witch in Nottingham in early Feb 2011. I had heard their stuff on myspace and I has also seen the reviews. I have to say I was looking forward to the gig and was not disappointed. They produced a real stirring performance using an array of great sound effects, kettle drums and ethereal vocals. Anyway, following the gig, I was looking forward to hearing Violet Cries, and was also not disappointed either. There is no band like them at the moment. They write very eclectic songs, big on atmosphere and subtlety. The singer sounds like Siouxsie Sioux, but also has her own distinct style. The highlight of the album for me is Chorea - this is a brilliant song with excellent soundscapes, and words probably do not do it justice. If you want to here something different, and like 'real' indie bands that write songs from the heart, then give this CD a try. You will not be disappointed.
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on 30 September 2011
Esben and the witch
Violet Cries review
Ethereal sounds scapes from The coast Esben And The Witch are an emersive transcendental music trio from brighton.
Like the Danish fairy tale they take there name from they cunjor a varied lucid and dream like landscape but like all truly memorable fairy tales there are fervent pockets of darkness there new release violet cries by no means a bubble bath fantasy the tracks marching song and warpath provide a heathing swell of emotive drama and darkness to the mix marching song in particular witch builds to a deafening almost unnerving crescendo, where as tracks like marine fields glow provide a positively haulncgenic calming euphoria .
The band also expresses a pioneering sesnse of expsperamentation, with unique vocal hooks and argenmeants and time signatures with out spiraling if into self indulgent anarchic experimental tangents .
This combination of haorring emotional darkness and almost dream like sonic suspension proves to be a winning combination , the bands sound oozes integrtaty lashesing the bands complex sonic architecture with effot less creativity. The overall effect is a truly masterful body of work and a truly superb debut.
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on 8 November 2012
Violent Cries is an album that speaks alone!It makes you feel all different kind of unstoppable of emotions from the first track till the last!
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on 26 April 2011
I got the album mostly based on the singles, "Marching Song" and "Warpath". Brooding, gothic, very fitting from the same label as Interpol. Spooky lyrics. Great build-up to the song. Creepy music videos, too. Sadly, the singles turned out to be the best songs on the album.

And it's a band from Brighton! I might actually be able to go to their live shows. So, I thought of supporting them by just blindly going to the HMV and buying the album.

Little did I know, the rest of the album wanders and builds to not much variation. Most of the songs are a lot of atmosphere, one melody perhaps, that won't be too memorable once you've gone through the whole album. It's repetitive, and not to an effect. The songs are redeemable on their own if you're not going through the whole album.

What drove me off the wall was the production quality and massive ammounts of reverb. This is more down to the fault of the mixing by Rodaidh Mcdonald (he also did mixing for "xx"). It just doesn't sound well, and I thought my headphones were messed up when beeps started hurting my ears on "Argyria".I listened to it on my CD player, and nope still hurting my ears. Most of the songs start just start to sound the same, thanks to the over-emphasised reverb to the point of you can't tell any of the instruments apart. And the fact that there isn't solid songwriting, because most of the songs barring "Light Streams" have one idea and not much evolution. Thankfully, Rachel Davies' tortured vocals are just enough to get you through each song without skipping them all.

Sometimes, there are guitar riffs to help point out which song you might be listening to, such as in "Chorea", but good luck with telling "Argyria", "Marine Fields Glow", "Hexagons IV", and "Battlecry/Mimicry" apart. The drums and Davies' vocals are the strongest points, so they come well together in the 6+ minute epic, "Eumenides". Unfortunately, they have to have an anti-climatic ending song as "Swans" where it builds and goes nowhere, accompanied by Davies' weakest singing on the album.

Esben and the Witch have a good concept going of sticking to post-punk goth vibes, but they need to pad out the building with variation in song structure. It's a decent but promising debut album. However, there's only so far atmosphere can go, before you have to actually make songs out of it.
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on 22 March 2011
I'm going to cut to the chase here. This is a fantastic album. I must admit i hadn't really heard of the band until recently (where i stumbled upon the video to Marching song) but since making their equantence i have been continually amazed at their creativity. This album is a musical journey that moves across a vast spectrum of emotions and will still have you discovering new wonders after many, many listens. Beautiful and inventive music, imaginative song structure, haunting vocals, this has it all. Highly recommended. On a personal note i would have liked to have seen the bands songs 'Corridors' , 'Lucia at the precipice' and 'about this peninsula' included but thats only because i would have liked my favorites on one disk. Buy the album then seek out their other work. You will not be disappointed. Without doubt one of the best albums iv'e ever purchased.
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on 23 February 2011
Well it's grey, raining and February,
but in my house all is well because I am listening to Esben and the Witch.
I must be a strange person because I find this sort of doomy, atmospheric, melancholy music immensely cheering and uplifting.
They are not ploughing a particularly new furrow - the Souixsie/Cure/Cocteau Twins parallels are pretty strong,
but it's very convincingly done and nicely spare with it.

My son (who originally bought this CD and passed it on saying "I think you'll like this Mum")
is convinced I'm a closet Goth and I'm beginning to wonder!
The only tiny criticism is that I find the vocals a bit over controlled
- for perfection (for my ears) I'd like to hear a little more abandon in her singing
but that's nitpicking.
This is an album I'll play a lot and love it already.
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on 20 April 2011
There is some serious musical talent going on here, and at times the sounds or you could say soundscapes, are so layered as to create a really powerful experience in the listener, one of such depth that you find yourself immersed in your own imagery, whether for better or worse! Dark and intense - often, powerful and absorbing.
I truly enjoyed this debut album...
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on 7 December 2011
A lovely album, that I had hummed and hawed about for a while, but I am glad I decided to go for it. Well worth a listen
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on 2 February 2011
Having now spent 5 days with this record I cannot rate it any lower than a 5. Its a dense, sprawling, ambitious album and one to love AND admire. i thought taste and class was all but dead. i was wrong. a proper long playing record, at last.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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