Posts Tagged ‘witching waves’

Witching Waves at Overblown

Armed with their sophomore album released via Soft Power Records over the weekend, Witching Waves delve into the creation and execution of Crystal Cafe. Their tone is serious, technical and deeply reflexive of the much more calculated and polished sound that is their second record. Additionally, we are respectfully allowed a peek into the process of a group which maintains total control over everything from the creative aspects of song-craft to the actual recording and mixing process.

Overblown: Hello and thank you for chatting with us here at Overblown about the release of your sophomore album! What can you tell us about the possible difference of process when writing and recording a second album? How did your group maintain fresh interest in recording while exploring new territory for your sound?

Emma: Hello! With the first album, we put almost all of the songs we had finished up to that point on the record and that made sense at the time. We were really happy just to be making an album and it acted as a sort of document of where we were at that point in time. With this second album, we took a different approach. This time we were writing and choosing songs with the album in mind. We wanted it to be a cohesive collection of songs with similar themes running throughout. In terms of recording, we just felt a bit more confident and that meant we were up for experimenting a little bit more, particularly with the dynamics. It was still very much a learning process but it felt like we were a step further. I am definitely not an old-hand at this, so I feel like I’m always exploring new territory and that can be really difficult and frustrating, but I think it’s also really important in order to keep moving forward.

Mark: Fresh interest shouldn’t really have to be maintained. I think if you have no interest you should really evaluate why you are doing it. It felt great when we started this album because we were really excited by what we could do. The first album was just sort of testing the water, and we made a lot of mistakes, as people do. Really with the first, we were just trying to make an album, then with the second one, we were really excited about trying out all the things that we realised were possible. I really like Fear Of Falling Down, but I do think that it is kind of a one-dimensional record. On this one we really wanted to try all the things that we kind of ignored the first time around.

OB: In your bio, it is stated that this album was primarily self-recorded and mixed by member Mark Jasper. What sort of edge do you think this provides your music? What influenced your decision to self-record and what sort of elements, advantages, or disadvantages do you think this choice created in your work?

Mark: I’m not sure it does provide us with an edge but it does make Witching Waves what it is. All of our music has pretty much been recorded by me at Sound Savers, and without that freedom, and that flexibility I really doubt we would have done so much stuff. Just from a financial perspective, it would be really expensive for a band to record as much as we do, or to spend as much time on it. Some of the songs on this album were recorded three times, some of them have like ten guitar tracks. We work for ages on vocals, we like to make sure they’re right. I am a full time recording engineer, so all of my time is spent recording or mixing, and as I do it more, I learn a lot, and I really think that feeds back in to the band.

Emma: Yeah, I’d agree with that. It’s been pretty key to our identity up to this point, although it might not be an edge as such. Aside from the practical and financial reasons, we like the fact that we are in control of the recording process. The main disadvantage is that there is no-one there who can have a bit of distance and perspective on things. We end up going through so many mixes of the songs and it can be hard to make the decision to draw a line and stop. It would be interesting to see how things would differ if we recorded with someone else, maybe in the future that could be an option.

OB: What is your approach to songwriting and practice as a group? How does this approach influence your song choice inclusion for “Crystal Cafe”?

Mark: We practice every Monday evening, and then Emma and I will do an extra one in between. I know this seems like a lot to most bands but we have to do it! With songs, we normally just start playing, we work everything up from the very beginning in the practice room, and even the vocals are finished there. Emma often works on lyrics with a tiny note pad on the bass drum. It’s nice to have a sort of spontaneity to the writing. Also, I think at home you think things will work, and then they sound weird in the room. The song inclusion was actually really easy, we sort of knew what was going to go on the record. There was one cut from the final running order towards the end, but I think we all knew it wasn’t going to make it! We throw a lot of songs away! It’s for the best really, I’m glad people haven’t heard all of them.

Emma: I really like writing collaboratively and in the practice room. And I like being able to base decisions on how the sound comes together (or doesn’t) when we’re together in the room, rather than at home which sounds totally different. We’ll record things on our phones at practice and then check to see if it still works once we’re back at home and have had some distance from it. With the lyrics, I might have an idea, usually something I’ve been thinking about or something I’ve read or seen, and I’ll start with just a phrase and work outwards from there, adding to it as we work on the song.

I feel like the songs for ‘Crystal Café’ all came together under a similar set of conditions, like in a science experiment.

OB: For my own ears, “Crystal Cafe” seems to certainly display a great deal of growth and cohesion of style for your group, was this a conscious effort, or more so an organic result of time and practice?

Mark: Thanks! I like to think it was both. We definitely wanted to try out new things but I was also aware that I didn’t want to just unnaturally change direction, as that would seem really contrived. There were definitely a couple of points where I really thought the record wasn’t very good, but that’s normal. There are definitely new things on the record that point towards things we are exploring now with the new stuff we’re writing, which is the most exciting thing to me, that we can look back and check how we’re doing going in to the future.

Emma: I think it was an organic result from time and practice but I think we wanted that too. We wanted it to evolve in some way and not just to stay the same. When we started the band I had only just started playing drums, so I think as I gradually get better that changes the way we sound.

OB: Often, groups find it very difficult to choose a suitable single release to promote their album release, why and how did you chose “Twister” as your single?

Emma: No particular reason other than it just seemed to make sense! It’s the first song on the album and it’s often the first song in the set. I feel like it’s an introduction, like “hello, this is us”!

Mark: I don’t know if we’ve picked it as a single! It’s just the first song! That made sense because it was just the first song that we wrote, the first song on the record, and whenever we play live, it’s the first song in the set. It is one of the few songs we’ve written with a sort of consistent energy, but some nice dynamic interchanges, it’s also unusual to have a song where only one of us sings. Emma is singing a lot more now, so yeah I think the song sort of sums up the record, in a way.

OB: One of my favorite aspects of your songcraft is the tension created by your ominous (and at times brooding) guitar and pedal work when paired with Wigham’s distinctly gentle (and infallibly strong) vocal work. Are her capabilities specifically taken into account when constructing the melodies?

Mark: I guess it’s best to ask Emma that… All I know is I have always kind of made drones, and played brooding minor progressions. I think Emma makes all of that stuff a bit easier to listen to! I definitely respond to the vocals first, I try and get Emma to sing early on in practice when we’re writing, otherwise I feel the song has no direction. I listen to her vocals for cues to change chord progressions or to do something different.

Emma: Usually, the guitar and the vocals come together at more-or-less the same time so they sort of feed off of each other. I almost feel like one wouldn’t exist without the other.

OB: Ok, I have to ask you this- what influenced your titling of this album? Is it a cafe made of crystals or a cafe for crystals to eat in?

Mark: Crystal Café is a café near the studio where we will often meet for lunch, it’s a nice place. We wanted the album to have sort of local references as the album is definitely about living and working in London. Crystal Café reflects that, a sort of ordinary place, but the crystal has a little bit of dreaming to it.

Emma: I remember going to Crystal Café quite a few times during the recording of the album. Both this album and our first album feel so heavily influenced by our surroundings. It feels like a sort of landmark.

OB: What can we expect to see from Witching Waves this year, any tours or other projects planned?

Mark: I think we’re definitely going to do some touring in the summer. There was a lot going on towards the end of last year, we did a tour with our friend’s Rattle and so many gigs, so this year we wanted to just write and play a few things. It’s been nice, but I’m ready now to record another LP, and go on tour again. We’re doing a single for a label in Melbourne, I think we should be recording that next week.

Emma: We’ve been having an unusually quiet time for WW lately and it’s been nice to have a bit of a rest but I’m looking forward to lots more gigs, tour and recording later this year!


Witching Waves at Ghettoblaster

Witching Waves is a trio from London, and they consists of two things I love in a band: the main vocalist is their drummer and their drummer is a female.  This is a heavy and dissonant album, with only the occasional short instrumental passage to break the pounding momentum built throughout.  Crystal Cafe is equal parts catchy and difficult, which is just the way I like it.


Witching Waves at For the Rabbits

Witching Waves are the noise-pop trio of drummer Emma Wigham, guitarist Mark Jasper and bass player Ed Shellard. Emma and Mark share vocal duties, whilst Mark also handled production on their upcoming record.

On the most basic level Witching Waves are a classically DIY noisy trio, persistent hypnotic drum beats, rumbling bass lines and angular, sludgy guitar riffs that just beg to be turned up a bit too loud for your own good. There’s a touch of Ikara Colt or Sauna Youth art-pop, plenty of the more tuneful end of hardcore mined by Fugazi or At The Drive In, and enough Sonic Youth feedback-drenched, noisy thrills for anyone’s taste.

Witching Waves are based out of London. The first major settlement in London can be traced back to the Roman’s in 43AD, although it’s only estimated to have lasted for eighteen years until it was stormed by Queen Boudica and her Iceni tribe, who burnt it to the ground. A second incarnation was more successful and around forty years later London became the capital of Roman Britain. London has an estimated 72 billionaires, more than any other city in the world, although with 27% of people in the city living in poverty, perhaps somebody should look at that! Famous London musicians include some bloke called David Bowie, a small unknown band called The Kinks, and international superstar hitmaker Dido Florian Cloud de Bounevialle O’Malley Armstrong.

Witching Waves first release came with the aptly named First Tape which appeared at the end of 2013. Following further cassette only releases, their debut album, Fear Of Falling Down, was then released via Soft Power Records at the back end of 2014. The bands second album, Crystal Cafe, is out this week with Soft Power again taking the UK release, and the excellent Happy Happy Birthday To Me releasing it in the US.

The sheer energy of this record brings back memories of sweaty clubs in the early noughties; of sticky dance floors, of singers who scream in your face, of drummers who hit the snare drum as it’s their worst enemies face, of guitarists who just want to make as much racket as they possibly can, and never stop making it. These are songs that slap you round the face with a scuzz-laden guitar-riff, a yelped vocal harmony and a bone-shaking bass line and they don’t let up until you’re broken and crying into your £5 pint of Carlsberg because your ears hurt and you’re not sure if you can remember where you live anymore.

What’s even better that is after that initial thrill has worn off there’s actually some depth here, it’s not just sweet, beautiful endless noise, it’s actual music, and music with some thought and message behind it. Twister might just sound like a menacing wall of distortion and snare-drums but it’s actually about gentrification, town planning and urban sprawl. The Threat is the bands view on the changing nature of their residence in Hackney; watching new tower blocks go up as the struggling long term residents are, “fighting against this endless threat every day.” If it’s sounding like they’re only interested in urban development, they also do a neat line in self-deprecation, see Receiver, a track about the danger and vanity of wanting to ingest culture for culture’s sake and treating art as a tick box exercise.

As well as the lyrical depth Crystal Cafe is also a record that does dabble into musical progress. It’s a record that was clearly created with a slight fear of repeating old tricks, and the band have worked hard to ensure that this record is a step-up from their debut. It’s a more cohesive record, sounding less like an assortment of songs and more like a singular entity. The production too, whilst not wanting to dampen their natural ramshackle tendency is subtly playful, some tracks a stripped back, with minimal guitar over-dubbing and fairly dry vocal production, whilst elsewhere there’s layer upon layer of distorted noise, double tracked vocals, tape effects; it’s clear effort has gone in to make the most of each song and to find each track’s own ideal sonic pallet. Probably the biggest, and best departure is in closing track Flowers, the intensity elsewhere is slightly ramped down, and courtesy of a rumbling bass line and constant solid snare hit the whole thing is subtly danceable with slight nods to the early works of Liars, that the band themselves describe it as not really sounding like a Witching Waves song is a sign of their ability to adapt, and perhaps points at even better things to come in the future.

Why Not?
There’s perhaps a couple too many instrumental breaks, and sometimes it feels like it’s a record striving a little too hard to achieve something beyond just being a really enjoyable power-pop record. That said, the ambition will serve them well on future recordings, and the occasional self-indulgent aside doesn’t dampen the joy of the noisy thrills elsewhere.



Witching Waves at Four Culture

When I learn of a band influenced by Sonic Youth and The Cure, then as a fan of those bands I am going to be intrigued.  When I think more about this I begin to wonder which era of each of these bands will have had most influence on London trio Witching Waves.  Both have vast back catalogues so will they be inspired by my favourite incarnation of these groups, or the most commercial, or the most experimental?

As we all know, a music writer who ‘thinks’ is quite dangerous.  It’s the music that should influence thinking and therefore the writing, and I was delighted that within the first few songs on their new album, Crystal Cafe I could hear the wild, unorthodox guitars of Teenage Daydream-era Sonic Youth on top of that darker, post-punk, Cure-like bass.

There’s a freshness in the songs with the alternating of male/female vocal duties. While they wear their main influences on their sleeve throughout, there is more to the songs than just this type of sound…

“Seeing double” is unpredictable, and though it recalls (Sonic Youth’s) “Tony’s Trip”, it also spirals into a grungey, almost Phil Spector-like chorus.

“Pitiless” has that 80s phased guitar sound, but it grows into a song with elements of shoegaze and that Breeders style pop-vocal-with-attitude.

Each song has many fragments, which are often flawed but always interesting, from the discord at the tail end of “Make it Up” to the drowning sea of drama in instrumental “Storm”.

Witching Waves create a nice mess… A noise that is unsettling yet simple, mixing mania with mainstream.


Witching Waves at When You Motor Away

For Crystal Cafe, the second outing from London’s Witching Waves, the trio changes skins from noise pop fuzzy to rocker leather.  There still is plenty of melody, but with a more straightforward and aggressive sound.  If your ears get the impression that the Shop Assistants are channeling Sonic Youth, you have good ears.  You probably also have happy ears.

Every note sounds like it is played with intent and confidence, an 11 track exploration of timeless rock expressions.  Thus you have the in-your-face assault of “Twister”, “Pitiless” and the magnificent “Red Light”, the saucy garage rock “Make It Up”, punk rock such as “The Threat”, the fuzzy “Receiver”, and the menacing mid-tempo closer “Flowers”.  And for a change of pace there are the ambient instrumental interludes “Red Light Loop”, “Anemone” and “Inoa”.  Showcasing the group’s power and breadth, Crystal Cafe should earn Witching Waves new fans on both sides of the Atlantic.

Witching Waves are Emma Wigham, Mark Jasper and Ed Shellard.  Crystal Cafe is released in the United States by HHBTM Records.  In the UK, Soft Power Records (Scotland) is offering limited edition vinyl with a digital download included.


Witching Waves at Here Comes the Flood

Ready for some angry, catchy DIY rock? London based trio Witching Waves go for howling feedback, tons of fuzz and leakage, topped off with wavering vocals on their second full-length Crystal Cafe. Emma Wigham, Mark Jasper and Ed Shellar have found a way to get even with the world by not so much as playing but attacking their instruments. This a band that won’t back down – when they stumble upon a riff they keep it going for the whole song. Think post-punk with hints of the Pixies, Deerhoof and the Replacements.

Crystal Cafe is the perfect soundtrack for a trip through the back alleys and decaying of the Greater London area where people are trying to cope with a corporate world that doesn’t give a fuck about their plight.

Recorded at Mark Jaspers Sound Savers studio Witching Waves have unleashed an album that should be played honoring Ritchie Blackmore’s quip about wanting to have “ëverything louder than everything else”. A rough diamond that never should be cut an polished.


Witching Waves at KEXP

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Witching Waves at Expressway To Yr Skull

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Witching Waves at Atlas & The Anchor

(The London post-punk trio – Emma Wigham, Mark Jasper, and Ed Shellard – released their sophomore album, Crystal Café today via Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records.  On it they whip up a furious blend of noisy, fuzzed out guitar tones and frenzied rhythms with catchy dream-pop appeal.  Check out the tone-setting opening track and standout single here with its twisty early Sleater-Kinney-like riffs and riotous melodies.)


Witching Waves at Ringmaster Review

Of the albums most anticipated by our particular ears was one from UK duo Witching Waves. They had us on line with their ltd edition cassette Concrete/Chain Of Command in 2014 and inescapably hooked with debut album Fear Of Falling Down later that same year but things have just got contagiously fiercer and even more sonically fascinating courtesy of their second full-length Crystal Café. It is a stunning roar of sonic and emotional dissonance fuelled by cutting hooks and feverish melodies, and that is not to forget the ever darkly mesmeric and often challenging lure of the vocals.

A mix of corrupted psych and surf rock fever with punk and post punk attitude, the Witching Waves’ sound mighty be better suggested by casting it as a union of the punk antagonism of The Raincoats and the garage punk ‘n’ roll devilry of The Creeping Ivies in collusion with the raw and virulent off-kilter pop of The Adult Net , Morningwood, and Delta 5. To be truthful, the London band has a sound which has always been its own individual but now forcibly so on Crystal Café. Intrigue for what the band will reveal next is always company to eager anticipation and indeed expectations, and it was no exception this time around, especially with the duo of founding members, vocalist/guitarist Mark Jaspar and vocalist Emma Wigham, having grown by one with the addition of bassist Ed Shellard since that previous impressive album.

Crystal Café opens up with Twister, a song shedding drama with its first surge of guitar. As it hits a heady stride with scything beats lining the brooding bassline of Shellard, the track has ears and imagination onside with ease, even more so as the siren like tones of Wigham collude with Jaspar’s sonic tendrils, all hot spice and raw flirtation. Not for the last time, a scent of The Cure certainly hits the rhythmic side of a song, adding appealing hues which engagingly merge with the fiery enterprise of guitar and voice.
The outstanding start continues in the concussively seductive Seeing Double, a roar of scuzzy guitar and alluring vocals with a sniff of almost Xmal Deutschland like post punk coldness. It is a grouchy encounter, epitomised by Jaspar’s aggressive vocal outbursts, but simultaneously also a raw melodic enticement which simply grips the imagination.

The following Pitiless uncages an anthemic rumble of rhythms as Wigham’s captivating vocals get entangled in the citric lines of just as compelling guitar spawned imagination. Juicy hooks are as frequent as searing sonic endeavour, being caught up in a bracing infectiousness which has the body jerking and senses wilting, though they do get respite from the alluring repetition sculpted instrumental Red Light Loop that follows. It is the first of a few imagination sparking interludes, a break before the raw trespass of contagion continues, in this case with Make It Up. There is a Wire like quality to the song which only adds to the pop catchy theatre that evolves to seriously excite and involve the listener. The track is as irresistible as a fondle in the shadows; offering a warm moment of pop slavery in the senses whilst they get intruded upon by the dissonance soaked soundscape of the album.

Anemone spreads a portentously melancholic instrumental breeze next, its starkly lit prowl a rising smog of discord as invasive as it is intimidatingly bewitching. The track sets up ears and imagination for The Threat, it a melodically cultured temper to the previous trespass with its boisterous surges of muscular beats and flowing vocal warmth over less kind but as riveting grooves. It too brews into a swarming sonic assault but without losing any of the pungent temptation it began coaxing ears with before the brazen temptress that is the excellent Red Light wraps its raw hunger and salacious beauty all over the listener.

The scathing sonic air and vocal angst of Receiver then takes over, its Jaspar voiced tempest bold exploration of the senses with underlying seduction added by the harmonies of Wigham, whilst after its pleasing encroachment and the evocative caress of instrumental Inoa, the album comes to a mighty close with new single Flowers. Wrapping around a glorious bassline echoing early Cure as crisp beats descend with resonating effect, strings of melodies and atmospheric suggestiveness come together, in turn swiftly joined by a dual smooch of vocals to captivate and entrance to which Wigham further adds her spellbinding lures. As seductive and inviting as it is, the track equally offers a host of descriptive shadows and sonic discordance that fester in thoughts and emotions to fine effect.

The track is an enthralling end to a simply superb release; another from Witching Waves and easily their finest moment yet. Hopefully this time around, the band gets the attention and surge of fresh appetites for their unique sound which previous releases warranted but Crystal Café demands and deserves.

Crystal Café is available on vinyl, cassette, and digital download from released February 26th via Soft Power in the UK and HHBTM Records in the USA.