I’ve really gotten into electronic music in the past couple years, and I always look for music that sounds nothing like anything I’ve heard before. In the case of “witch house,” I believe I’ve found it. Before I continue with this post, I should mention that witch house artists do not call themselves witch house. It is apparently considered a humorous category to describe “occult-sounding house music.” With that in mind, this is an article about dark, very submerged-sounding electronic music that has jokingly been known as witch house (and now the joke has gone too far).
As an aside, there were a few of these artists that I really enjoyed, and several that I didn’t like at all. It seems that they walk a fine line of ridiculousness in this genre.
Balam Acab. I found this guy last, but I’m putting him first because he is awesome. From the moment I heard Apart, I wanted to hear everything. Moments like that are my favorite in music: love at first listen. His album Wander/Wonder is absolutely fantastic, and I recommend it to anyone that likes that first song there. What I like about it is the sense of movement, and how it can feel like you’re underwater. He somehow gets a bright tone out of something that should be muddy. It’s very unique.
Holy Other. What I liked about Holy Other was that he takes a really dark vibe and manages to make it groove. It doesn’t just feel like drone or more standard “dark ambient.” It actually feels catchy, while still being dynamic and complex. I wish he had more music – I was only able to find about seven songs – but my favorite of what he’s got is called Touch.
oOoOO. One of the darker artists I checked out. He has some songs that seemed pretty experimental to me (in the “what did I just listen to?” sense), and some others that I liked. He doesn’t seem to have a motif in his music, which is alright, but it just makes for a listening experience that can be disconcerting at times. For example, one of his songs I liked the most was Burnout Eyess, which has an ethereal sound to it. Contrast that with Egyptynlvr, which is pretty haunting by comparison (although it grew on me after a while).
Salem. I didn’t like Salem as much as the first three. They have an oppressive sound, and while I’m not saying it was bad, it just didn’t entertain me like the less wall-of-depression bands in the genre. I know there will be people who prefer this kind of sound, though, so check out King Nightand go from there.
†‡†. I would be remiss if I did not include one of these guys in my witch house overview. There are a lot of witch house groups that use symbols in their names to make them impossible to pronounce (this guy goes by the name Ritualz). His music is disturbing and random, but he does some stuff I didn’t notice in other artists, so I’ll point out a couple songs: Misery Walk has that classic drone sound that keeps you gripped on the song even though nothing is really happening; Psychic Twins, the most dissonant house song ever.
I’m glad I found this genre for the sake of the first two artists on this list. Some of the others were just not for me. The genre is described as being formed in 2009 to the early ’10s, and is primarily North American. All I can say about that, having listened to this stuff for a few weeks, is that contemporary Americans are messed up.