The legendary Alice Glass uploaded a glorious “Dark Disco” mix to her SoundCloud several years ago. I’m very thankful for it, not only because it’s 20 minutes of superb dark wave and witch house, but because it shifted the algorithm. A whole raft of acts I’d missed followed in its wake. One of the best, by light-years, being Brazil’s FIENDGRIEF.
The duo dropped their Loss EP earlier this year and I’ve had it on repeat since I discovered it. Despite not explicitly tagging themselves as a witch house act, FIENDGRIEF do incorporate many of that genre’s stylistic elements into their work. That being said, there is a greater emphasis on any dance aspect that the word ”house” implies.
The two purest examples of this from Loss are “Shattered Glass” and “Yr Hands.” “Shattered Glass” is almost impossibly cool dark techno. The melody and counter-melodies cycle around and around. The beat is weighty and its breakdown lulls you into a false sense of security before hitting you even harder.
“Yr Hands” is a definite floor-filler. Distortion and signal noise are fixtures of Loss, but it never distracts from the sheer compulsion to move that this provokes. “Yr Hands” is one of the most perfect examples of dark dance music I’ve ever heard. It fucks with your head while doing a number on your muscles and bones.
Like Neotenomie’s Witches EP, Loss can also be deeply hypnotic. The stereo manipulation on “Disrupt”(combined with the previously mentioned distortion) is disorientating and unsettling, but it works so well with the intensity of the beat.
“No One Will Ever Feel the Pain” builds more slowly, and takes things a little higher. There’s more hi-hat in there, but what matters most is how it peaks. The whole EP messes with you, but here comes the killshot. The signal noise becomes absolute before collapsing into a single tone as we’re led out.
Loss takes ideas that I’ve heard a thousand times before, and revitalises them. Here FIENDGRIEF have proved themselves to be among the most skilled practitioners of these dark arts.
You can find FIENDGRIEF here: