Witch House – the dark, occult themed microgenre of electronic music which fosters so much devotion in fans and more than a little confusion in general. It trades in mystery and obscurity. Vocals tend to be haunting, ethereal and often unintelligible. Many artists represent themselves using l33t and unicode characters (GL▲SS †33†H, ///▲▲▲\\\ or †‡† anyone?) – a fact which makes discussing them somewhat fraught.
However its defiance and complexity explain much of its appeal to musicians, listeners and typists like myself. It’s immersive, sometimes oppressive; but always driven by atmosphere and emotion. Often times you experience Witch House, rather than simply listen to it.
Staticca and Sindy’s Arcade puts a slightly different spin on things. The stereotypical image of haunted, dilapidated warehouses or isolated, rotting mansions are replaced with (as the title suggests) abandoned arcades. Producer Staticca has booted up dusty, long neglected coin-ops, drawn dysfunctional chiptune jingles from them; and then wired them into the more familiar atmospherics, distortions, beats and Sindy’s synthesised vocals.
Up front; it should be noted how deliberate the order of Arcade’s tracks is. 1, 3, and 5 (“The Queen”, “Put The Blame On Me” and “Superstitious”) foreground 8-bit style melodies to greater extents than “Give In”, “Naive” and “Sway.” In essence it feels like their more joyously nostalgic tones keep breaking through before faltering. Ultimately they’re overcome, as “Sway” is the Witch House-iest song on Arcade.
“The Queen” and “Put The Blame On Me” go long ways in representing how Arcade distinguishes itself from other works it’ll be filed alongside. “Put The Blame On Me” in particular, is the entire EP in a microcosm. The melody is bouncy and almost (dare I say it) sunny – but it’s contrasted against Sindy’s performance and ultimately sinks beneath the darker elements underlying it.
Sindy’s performance also adds to the distinctive air of Arcade. Gone are the whispers, shouts and shrieks present in a lot of Witch House. Her voice is modulated, robotic, but still conveys a considerable amount of pathos. Think GLaDOS from the Portal games, if she experienced ego death while trapped inside a fritzing NES.
Witch House music isn’t an easy genre to talk about or get into. Acts like Crim3s or Crystal Castles are good entry points, but despite its idiosyncrasies; I’d say that Arcade isn’t a bad place to start either. It’s proximity to vaporwave and retro synth styles make it curiously accessible. And in of itself, Arcade is just so satisfying and so different that it’s worth playing around with.
By the way – Staticca have their own YouTube channel, which has an unacceptably low view count. I’ve fallen for their work pretty hard, especially the video for “Airborne”; which you should definitely check out:
You can find Staticca & Sindy in these places: