When I first wrote about witch house, I was under the impression that it was on its way out. Either it never went away, or we’re in the second wave of it, because I’ve come across a bunch of new artists in that style lately. This second take on the genre has afforded me the opportunity to describe it better than I did the first time, as well as the chance to share some more artists laden with ridiculous unicode band and track names. I didn’t really hone in on any particular group of artists this time, although I did come across a couple favorites. Thus, this post will be more free form than usual, and I’ll address both the artists I enjoyed as well as my take on this genre relative to the mainstream.
The first order of business is the new, refined definition of witch house, in my own words. It seems to me, now, to be a slow, dark, dreary variant of RnB. The doom metal of hip-hop, you might say. It is reminiscent of a lot of artists you may know: an immediately obvious example is Lil B. The interesting thing about that is that at least part of Lil B’s iconic “based” sound was curated by an artist named Clams Casino, who is at least partly considered a witch house producer. I’m God is one of his works. The more obvious RnB elements in witch house remind me of artists like The Weeknd, whose music I discussed previously.
What the genre has that sets it apart is a very deranged, sometimes evil feel to it. The tracks go all over the place, with disquieting melodies and alien sampling, making for tones designed to feel disturbing. I think it’s something one can get used to, and much more simply done than trying to get used to straight up noise or other more abstract genres. Witch house is grounded by its solid beats and basslines, which, as mentioned before, have a vaguely RnB groove to them. Still, you are likely to hear some weird stuff from some of these artists.
One of my less ridiculous finds of this experience was Mathbonus. I mean it: compared to some artists (we’re getting there), Mathbonus is a real straight shooter. His tracks are melodic, subdued, and very pleasant. As we hear in Orchid, that doesn’t mean his tracks are boring. He throws in the right amount of variety to keep the track going, and he does this solidly in all the tracks I’ve heard by him. Old Habits is a tremendously well-done experimental ambient track, and he also has more standard ambient tracks like There Is Light In Us. My actual favorite track by Mathbonus (and possibly even in the genre, at the moment) is Fog. It’s one of those “everything done just right” tracks, with the heavily modulated samples, the slightly unconventional beat, and the slow crescendoing effect of the track as a whole. Hearing this track on accident was one of the reasons I decided to listen to more witch house again.
On the somewhat more ridiculous end of the spectrum, we have artists like Crim3s and Gvcci Hvcci. Crim3s sounds a LOT like Crystal Castles, and you’ll get what I’m saying after listening to Still Goin’. I will say about them, and that track, they have good production. It makes me wonder how it would sound if I had a good sound system in here. if you can get used to the high-pitched yelling/squeaking, the music is carries itself well.
As for Gvcci Hvcci, I don’t really know what to say. I share his (I think it’s safe to assume it’s a guy) music for educational purposes. BLOWIN UP is the first track I heard by Gvcci Hvcci. The vocals sound like a mix of Ke$ha and Kitty Pryde, if one of them decided to make a track while really high. Crack the Whip is not much different, in that respect. If you’re into this, then welcome to the genre. It just wouldn’t be a witch house article if I didn’t bring back something weird.
Nor would it be a witch house article if I didn’t start bringing in the special characters. Cue another one of my favorite finds: Summer of Haze. I’m usually nervous when artists start to roll out the ▲’s, but ▲s Love By Effect ,▲s Blowjob By Feelings is a stunning track that caught my attention immediately. When it cut out at 1:49, I thought that my phone had skipped tracks. It is criminally short for how much promise it has, but it is great nonetheless. He treats the vocal samples as an instrument (or at least I hope that was the plan, because I have no idea what they’re saying), and the beat is well-chosen. The track has a very sick sense of groove because of it. Another strong track is Insomni▲. An interesting thing I found by Summer of Haze is a remix of Tupac’s Hail Mary, entitled Come With Me, Hail Mary. This is one of those songs that you wouldn’t expect to hear a cover of, much less a compelling one, but I think Summer of Haze has managed to pull a new layer out of it.
I’ve listened to a substantial amount of music in a genre called future garage. It’s kind of a broad genre, but I think most artists have got a “sound vaguely like Burial” thing going on. It is a chill genre, like witch house, and I can hear some overlap, such as silly, naive, unfinished by Haapa. My point is that I see the future of pop music drawing from one or both of these two genres. Dubstep’s time in the spotlight is likely coming to a close, and I think the next producer looking for something edgy that hasn’t quite been tried before is going to look to artists like those in this thread, or in the future garage threads.
Of the two, witch house is possibly the more accessible, because it is so similar to RnB in terms of beat selection. Future garage is much more about coming up with unusual beats, and I don’t see that taking off in the mainstream, which seems to always be dance-oriented. The really eery/grungy sounds of witch house have proven themselves to go well with standard beats, and that could be what it takes to break through. We’ve already got artists who put $’s in their names, so why not a ▼ or two? When you hear the likes of Люби меня, люби! by ɪɲ ʕʰɘɼɾʏ ɟȺɱɨʟʮ on the radio, don’t say I didn’t warn you.