Sexwitch - Sexwitch [VINYL]

by Kevin Orton Rating:10 Release Date:2015-09-25

On her latest collaboration, Sexwitch, Bat for Lashes’ Natasha Kahn has done something truly stunning and extraordinary, in a scant six tracks no less. She has taken a mix of influences ranging from Thai, Iranian, Moroccan and American folk traditions and given them a wicked, powerful and utterly wild electro-psych-rock makeover.

This is an astonishing album of keening abandon and heart-stopping beauty. The very title, Sexwitch, sums it up beautifully. This is alluring and hypnotic stuff. The siren’s call if I ever heard it.

Drawing on Moroccan traditions, 'Ha Howa Ha Howa' is all chants and ghostly wails, as primal as it is ethereal. Utterly mesmerizing. Helelyos takes its roots in the Iranian tradition, with English lyrics that cast a demonic spell as it spins a web of pure euphoria. Kassadat El Hakka borrows once again from Moroccan influences, a stirring, acerbic mix of incantation and outcry. As the lyrics warn, “it will linger in your soul”.  “When I die I will go back to where I was,” she chants. The sounds of an ancient heathen goddess being summoned for either love or war. A track of unrelenting, frightening intensity. Words that easily characterize this entire album.

Lam Plearn Kiew Bao wisely takes a step back to the eerily pastoral, it’s Thailand folk reminiscent of the moonlit ballads off Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock & Roll, which I reviewed earlier this year. As haunting and beautiful as it gets. It all goes to show what a remarkable and versatile vocalist Natasha Khan is. Ghoroobaa Ghashangan, revisits Iranian stylings once again, managing to be both ghostly and funky at the same time. Like a coven of witches getting their groove on All Hallows under a blood red moon.

The stunning last track, War in Peace is from Skip Spence’s classic cult album, Oar. An album with which I’m quite familiar. America’s answer to Syd Barrett’s The Madcap Laughs. Sexwitch’s version of War in Peace is positively hair raising. Seductive as a feather floating in the ether, then ending in a mad dance between dream and nightmare. Simply breathtaking.  

Without a doubt Sexwitch is one of the most arresting albums you’ll hear all year. Both menacing and miraculous. A transcendent album full of sex, magic and mystery. It simply blew me away.

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