I’ve done it again. Fallen way behind and missed the opportunity to seize something vital on day one. Reviewing Neotenomie’s Witches should have been a major priority of mine. This is because the California based producer was behind one of my favourite albums of all time.
That was 2017’s SUPEREGO ROYAL JELLY, a collaboration with an artist behind another of my favourite albums. SUPEREGO…is an intense and provocative masterpiece. Its lyrical content is astonishing (and perfectly served by a vocalist as dexterous as Rook); but what pushes SUPEREGO…above and beyond is the vivid, imaginative musical canvas her words are etched upon.
One reason why Witches fascinates me so much is because it foregrounds Nomie’s talents. Her contributions to SUPEREGO…weren’t suffocated by Rook, but the latter naturally drew the most attention. On Witches, we’re enlightened to the heights Nomie can reach despite the absence of such a forceful presence front and centre.
On the title track, the vocals are obscured and mysterious – woven into the fabric of the track rather than playing off of it. However, what matters most here are the hypnotic, fractal lines which cycle over and over. True, sharper notes (reminiscent of those from SUPEREGO’s sublime “Not Coming Back”) punctuate “Witches,” but a cumulative effect is generated. Curiously I’d recommend staring at the record’s cover art while listening to this, because it genuinely enhanced the experience for me.
In many ways this is more a sensory experience than a straight collection of songs. Yes, the tracks are distinct from one another, but they all maintain a thread of disorientation. “Bleed Perfectly” has more of a break beat, some deep bass and harsher synths; but there is no sense of dilution.
I highly recommend listening to Witches through the best headphones you can find. But strangely, “Bleed Perfectly” caused me to consider what any theoretical, optimal environment for experiencing this in might be like. Images of abandoned, cavernous buildings filled my mind. Immense spaces the music can fill and fill and fill, creating a sense of truly inescapable immersion.
Witches ends with “New Shape.” This one amps up the creep factor, with crackles and slurps putting me in mind of slithering masses of worms. It’s fleshy ASMR (I legitimately felt tingles), albeit with a gorgeous choral strike near the end.
You’ll notice that I’ve only discussed three tracks. Initially my only criticism of Witches was its short length (it clocks in at just over ten minutes.) I wanted more, but Nomie was wise to limit the level of exposure. Dragging things on could’ve undermined everything. Which would’ve have been a travesty, because Witches is one of the most unique and rewarding listens I’ve encountered for some time.