When I was little the local public radio station where I lived had a children’s fairy tale session on Sunday mornings. I’d lie in bed listening to the tales of Mollie Whuppie, Hansel and Gretel, Jack and the Beanstalk, Tom Thumb and Esben and the Witch, lost in a world of ogres, evil witches, clever kids, forced marriage, night slaughter, and cannibalism – just what a growing girl needs to prepare for the real world.
Brighton band Esben and the Witch have taken a leaf out of the big book of fairy tales and wandered further down the deserted, bleak road toward their melancholy fate. Gothic and funereal, with moments of drum-led euphoria and some good ol’ bloodthirsty battle lust, their debut album Violet Cries harks back to the days of Siouxsie and the Banshees but still manages to retain a sense of the negative space used so effectively by The xx – lush, yet isolated.
Nominated for the BBC’s influential Sounds of 2011 poll, Esben and the Witch are ones to watch if you like things dark, mysterious and mystical (and who doesn’t) – look out for their upcoming Zurich gig, where hopefully there are no boiling cauldrons or cannibalistic witches waiting in the wings.
‘Marching Song’ – ouch, that looks painful: