From some eerie laundromat/wind tunnel of orange-tinted 1960’s production aesthetics, this indefinable album lands somewhere between electronic and rock. A series of songs and sound fragments that is deeply listenable, highly adventurous, and ecstatically unpredictable.
Witch Cults is Birmingham, UK pop group Broadcast’s collaboration with electronic artist The Focus Group. Whatever sonic raw material here has been mutated into something utterly other, yet non-artificial. This is electronic music with a focus on acoustics, and the feedback squalls and echo chambers, organs and vocal harmonies come through as a rich blend of analog and digital.
I’ve been giving this repeated listenings along with another album I bought recently, the Rolling Stones’ most psychedelic outing Their Satanic Majesties Request. While very different, Witch Cults seems to be in some way a distant answer to that album, an inheritor of British psychedelia, cryptic pagan fantasy under a cool modern surface.
A few tracks seem to be redigesting the shuffling turntable-crunchy beats and flute loops of Portishead, but for the most part this album scorns trip-hop tropes in favor of bold explorations in sound: amazing atmospheres ranging from ethereal folk to sci-fi soundtrack.