Poltergeists: Week of January 25, 2016

Poltergeists is a biweekly feature in which Michael and Wes share tracks that they have had on repeat over the past two weeks.



Casually perusing the “witchhouse” tag on bandcamp is always a journey. There are a lot of weird crossover labels that get pulled up. Some things are “occult witchhouse vaporwave,” or maybe “dark pop shoegaze witchhouse.” You never know what you are going to get. PZA, however, instantly stuck out. I had a really hard time getting past the first track, which happens to be the title track from the tape version of “PURECASTER.” Starting in a dream state, “PURECASTER” lulled me in with an airy sample loop and a catchy, whistling synth line. On the surface, this track has a pretty repetitive groove, but when I turned it up and really let myself fall into the space of the track, I was lost in the elements. There is a moment right before the drums come in for the first time - just a tiny sample leading you out of the intro and into the heart of the song - that gets me pumped up every time I hear it. It is so simple and quick, but I know that it leads into this pulsing, almost breath-like groove, and it is important to the way the song progresses. If it weren’t there I think the track would have a different feeling. It is repeated later, to lead you into the same pattern, foreshadowing the drop.  

Depressed040 - “Lycka?”

I am not sure who decides this, but I think that it is appropriate to say that the second wave of witch house is well under way. I have been surfing through a lot of tags lately and there are some really great tracks floating around from the end of last year. Depressed040’s SJÄLVMORD is a loud and over-compressed mess of ultra-dark and wonderful sounds. Like the PZA track, there is a really awesome moment right before the main drums kick in where a woman says something and then begins to scream, but it is cut off suddenly by the impact of the over-compressed drums, which cause the synth line to push in and out of the mix. It has a great effect.


Dolor - “Strange Dies, Too”

I’m pretty sure it was Lorn that led me to Dolor, and Dolor appeals to me in a very similar way to Lorn. Dolor has these great, lush soundscapes that have a beautiful sort of layering and texture to them. They can flow smoothly, rolling like waves, or on other tracks, they can feel heavy and aggressive. While the whole album is great, I think that “Strange Dies, Too”, shows the beauty Dolor is capable of when the tracks are relatively restrained. There’s not really any percussion to lead you along; instead you are pulled by these washing, distant horns, hissing ever so slightly as they roll in, punctuated by subtle distorted bass. I recommend listening with good headphones, closing your eyes, and just hearing the textures wash over you.

Tempers - “Strange Harvest”

This track is immediate. There is something about the kick pounding along immediately with a background of quiet, panning guitars that makes you perk up and turn your attention to the track. When the verse kicks in, which doesn’t take long, that sense of urgency is only strengthened by the simple bassline and pads. The vocal delivery has a wonderful presence in the verse, but when the chorus hits that presence is taken to another level.

I really like how the guitar work never really takes a traditional form. It always kind of sounds like this strange and distant tremolo picking, or maybe just a pick sliding up and down on the string. The distance and tone of the guitar help it to blend well with the synth elements of the song, which while being sort of the primary tone under the vocals, have their own sort of subtlety to them. It’s a really well constructed track, and one I can’t stop listening to.