Esben and the Witch
Since forming in Brighton in 2008, Esben and the Witch have forged a sound that springs forth from minds soaked in influences far and beyond any standard set of musical touchstones. Nature and literature, art and science, history and the unknown - the trio eschews the everyday for inspiration drawn from sources weird and wonderful, as well as the occasional Scott Walker and PJ Harvey record. And the results?
The results have been excellently received. A demo-cum-EP, "33", was sold at gigs and distributed online, leading to coverage from British broadsheets to US blogs. Esben followed this early success with a split release on the Dance to the Radio label, contributing the track "Skeleton Swoon" to a 12" in the autumn of 2009, and their first official 7" single, "Lucia, at the Precipice", was released through Too Pure in February 2010. Both limited-edition vinyl releases sold out in no time at all.
"Lucia" was supported by the band's first headline UK tour, and they hit the road again in May 2010 as main support to The Big Pink. They have shared stages with a wealth of critically acclaimed artists, including The xx, Wild Beasts, Efterklang, Deerhunter and Sian Alice Group. In the summer of 2010 they will take their ever-evolving live set to festivals home and abroad, having already taken their first steps onto the continent with debut shows in Paris and Amsterdam.
The second half of 2010 will see Esben's profile reach new heights. The band signed with Matador Records earlier in the year, becoming the label's only UK act alongside a roster including Sonic Youth and Cat Power, and the first fruits of this relationship will be ripe for release in the autumn. In support of their first EP for Matador, "Marching Song" - due late September; their debut album will follow in early 2011 - Esben will tour the US with Foals and embark on another UK tour before the year is through. They will also appear at Matador's 21st anniversary celebrations in Las Vegas.
And what do they sound like? At some stage of their ascent, a single soul deemed this distillation of pointed beats, percussive drama and ethereal atmospherics "nightmare pop". But the band would rather you dreamt up your own terminology, just as they have sought to establish a new sonic vocabulary through which to express their innermost emotions.