Album Review: “Crystal Cafe” by Witching Waves

They have a twisted, jaded, pessimistic view of the world. Nothing is actually beautiful and nothing can be trusted. It is in this world that Witching Waves lives and communicates through their music. And, it is this world that is crumbling slowly around them and everyone else while no one does a thing. Witching Waves keeps to themselves in most every way besides their passion for music which serves as their reaching hand to the everyone else out there.

In 2014, the trio (Emma Wigham, Mark Jasper and Ed Shelland) released their debut record, Fear of Falling Down, which attracted attention from many listeners and lovers of music, including the label, HHBTM (Happy Happy Birthday to Me). Fast-forward to 2016 and the release of Witching Waves’ sophomore record, Crystal Café, now out on HHBTM. The album takes off at breakneck speed and doesn’t look back because Witching Waves doesn’t look back. The opening track, “Twister”, blasts through your ears like the wicked weather phenomenon it’s named after. Emma Wigham’s perfectly punk vocal quality gives you the hard and depressing truth:

When one working day’s over,

Another one’s just beginning

 

The record reaches an even higher level of urgency and distaste in the following track, “Seeing Double.” Mark Jasper shouts frustrations in desperate anger.

What are you doing here and why won’t you leave me alone?

Is he shouting at himself, everyone else around him or both? Ask yourself that question.

The first few tracks leave you exhausted and desperate for air. There is no breath, no break from the tension. Thankfully, they inserted a brief interlude, “Red Light Loop”, to give you some fresh air. But, within the interlude title is a message: Are we just a bunch of mindless bodies driving around loop after loop stopping at red lights, for what?

The A side closes with a sinister instrumental track which sends you blindly into the B side (which not surprisingly opens at hyper speed). The track fights a futile battle with the “wolf” and “devil” who are always at our doors while we try our hardest to walk away.

Devil’s at my door again

I can’t even walk away without falling down

Within the rich, wild and raucous record is stunning poetry. Seeing the lyrics on paper turns the sonic explosion and out of control feeling that listening to Crystal Café gives the listener into poetry. My favorite track on the record is “Receiver” for this very reason. The track is something completely different on paper than it is when it comes blasting out of my record player. The sound of anger turns into reflection and introspection shrouded in sadness and confusion.

The album closes with “Flowers”, another favorite of mine. It’s a simple and soft surprise after all that noise.

Despite the dark attitude Witching Waves as about the world and its stark contrast to the way in which we should live to deal with the troubles of our current world, everyone can find solace in Crystal Café. Everyone has a breaking point and this record will be there for you when you break.

Crystal Café is out now on HHBTM now and can be purchased on iTunes and from HHBTM.

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