A few months ago (although it feels like a lifetime) we talked a lot (review, gig, interview) about Esben and the Witch. Then they disappeared into the ether. That is, they went to tour wherever the wind took them. Goshdarned globalwarming took them everywhere. They were like leaves in a warm gust of wind in a late Autumn afternoon.
In this breezy analogy, the very sound of Esben and the Witch changes (a bit) going into more ambient atmospheres, filled with that uneasy feeling of dread they so well pulled off in Violet Cries.
Hexagons EP is made up from six songs, I-VI, with alternative names in brackets. ‘Hexagons I (The Fall)’ sets the mood to “melancholy”, with little tinges of shoegaze (love, love her voice) with an understated amount of instruments. It’s not minimalistic (there’s no empty spaces to fill), but it isn’t layered.
The EP feels very symmetric. ‘Hexagons I (The Fall)’ and ‘Hexagons VI (The Thaw)’ feel like polar opposites and the same can be said for ‘Hexagons V (The Cast)’ and ‘Hexagons II (The Flight)’. These two tracks is where Rachel Davies‘ voice shines through. It seems her voice is mostly far in the distance, becoming more of an instrument (think of a ghostly EVP sample) than a voice. It adds so much to the atmosphere, probably a point of confusion to the newcomers and possibly a good hook to make them come back for more.
I would suggest you listen to the EP as a whole piece instead of separate songs, as all songs flow together pretty well, seamlessly continuing the ideas set up. This works brilliantly in ‘III (The Surge)’ and ‘IV (The Still)’. The piano works wonders.
It’s been a good year for the Esben and the Witch trio. The ideas from Violet Cries have been developed in a logical way, with enough gloominess to still have that signature ambient sound. They have received a lot of praise (all of it deserved) and Hexagons is a nice way to cap off the year.