Witch Of The East: Savage Beauty
Released October 29th
Nottingham’s Witch Of The East – a.k.a. Aeris Houlihan and her consistent backing band – has always been a force to be reckoned with – vulnerable but fierce, gritty and grungy yet full of mystic romance. As the title implies, new album Savage Beauty very much reinforces this.
Witch Of The East’s second album Savage Beauty opens in the most wiccan of fashions an album can, with a one-minute mini-soundwave entitled Ritual. It acts as a kind of door opening into the world of witchcraft, the ritual which initiates the listener into her coven. Going from here to her two recent singles – Red, Yellow and Black and Comfort Me – there is a sense of something brooding and enticing, swirling at a pace that allows breathing room. The former evokes all that is ritualistic, putting the listener in a darkly enchanted forest, while the latter is unashamedly forthright in its vulnerability. Fool’s Paradise continues in a reflective vein, sparse and feeling like a one on one conversation with someone opening up their innermost secrets.
Having lulled us in, Savage Beauty can then really go all out with aural magick. From the intimacy and honesty of Fools Paradise, we go into Through A Thousand Doors, a lyrical hex set against an uncompromising, fuzzy wall of sound. Little Red blends the two styles, starting out woozy and enticing before morphing into something more, streams of sound shooting upwards like a pop culture depiction of light from a locked spellbook.
By the time we reach closer In The Dark, a meditative piece which crawls slowly along the listener’s neck to run amok around the throat, we have gone on a kind of journey with Houlihan and her band, one which takes us both through a state of mind and also a deeper, mystical state of being.
Carving out of style which has grown ever more distinct on this album, what we have from this is a sense of not only of an individual but of a band operating at their most fully formed and managing impressive feats of connecting to the listener. Closing with the line “I am your consciousness,” sung in all confidence, there is something hard to argue with about that. A dark, brooding and all-around impressive record on which Houlihan summons demons while tackling her own.
All words by Amy Britton. Find more on her archive.