One of the drawbacks of having spent a long time listening to music is that it gets harder and harder to crack through the shell of aging hipster ennui one develops, and to be truly surprised by something. My carapace is pretty close to bulletproof at this point, which means that I’ve come to treasure those moments where I find something like Sweden’s Them Teeth, which make me scratch my head a little.
I can’t remember how I found my way to the Gothenburg duo, especially since, even by the standards of a place like Heathen Harvest, they seem pretty far underground. Auditory Witchcraft is their first proper album, and came to my attention relatively recently, despite having been released on Works ov Cauldron last autumn. I believe that Works ov Cauldron is actually the band’s own label, as Auditory Witchcraft is their first release and the only other is a project from one of the members of Them Teeth.
However I discovered the band, I’m quite glad I did, because it is the sort of thing that could slip through the cracks: an independent release on a fledgling label that doesn’t slip easily into a specific genre. Their earlier self-released EP, Erstwhile, is a darkly shimmering treasure, closest in sound to their countrymen Arktau Eos, and some other artists on the Aural Hypnox label. Auditory Witchcraft is more grounded and “musical” and at the same time more difficult to define. Raw, plaintive acoustic guitar is pushed far to the front, while washes of noise form the backdrop. There are licks of folkish melodies throughout, but at the same time, there’s a jazzy element that keeps surfacing, even though the instrumentation could hardly be further removed from that world. There are even moments when a mellow psychedelic feel starts to creep in.
After thinking about it for some time, the closest comparison, and it’s not that close, would be to the similarly dark and dreamy Bohren and der Club of Gore, although that band isn’t exactly known for their acoustic instrumentation. Fans of more recent Current 93 releases might well find something to like here as well, although the lack of clear vocals will make it a very different kind of experience. I’ve heard some metal artists approximate this sort of sound from time to time, but none of them has done it this well.
Ultimately, Auditory Witchcraft is a worthy listen because it’s a finely crafted original and something that will keep your attention through its subtleties and by its enchanting and peculiar originality. This deserves way more attention than it’s getting.