ES­BEN AND THE WITCH Vi­o­let Cries ( Mata­dor Records)

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos -

The nicest thing I can say about Vi­o­let Cries — and it’s very nice in­deed — is that I’ve lis­tened to it many times and have not had the same ex­pe­ri­ence twice. It sounds en­tirely dif­fer­ent in head­phones, on com­puter speak­ers, a boom­box, and a car stereo, at dif­fer­ent vol­umes and even dur­ing dif­fer­ent times of day. The points of com­par­i­son (Cocteau Twins, Mazzy Star, My Bloody Valen­tine, Black Sab­bath) make for an odd de­scrip­tion of this English trio’s mu­sic, but theirs is an ever-chang­ing sound. The one con­stant is Rachel Davies’ pow­er­ful singing, whether it’s ac­com­pa­nied by piano or gui­tar re­verb, backed by elec­tronic beats or brushes on a hi-hat, or whether the lyrics are pro­found or un­in­tel­li­gi­ble. The mu­sic main­tains an ethe­real, mys­ti­cal feel that drifts for­ward for 35 min­utes un­til burst­ing, al­most in­evitably, into fran­tic dance beats at the cli­max to “Eu­menides” and then re­lax­ing into “Swans,” a rel­a­tively straight­for­ward num­ber rem­i­nis­cent of early Cat Power. Out of the mul­ti­tude of ex­pe­ri­ences I had with this al­bum, my fa­vorite was while driv­ing on a high­way at night, as the first flakes of a snow­storm blew across the wind­shield and flashed briefly in my head­lights — a mo­ment in time that is likely as good a de­scrip­tion of the mu­sic as any.

— Robert B. Ker

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