Esben & The Witch will be releasing their new album ‘Hold Sacred’ on the 12th of May via their own label Nostromo Records.
“Everything’s changed and nothing’s changed,” says vocalist Rachel Davies of their sixth album, ‘Hold Sacred’.
“This kernel is the purest essence of Esben and the Witch since our inception.”
It’s a product of the trio’s deeply important, 14-year-spanning friendship. Together, they shut themselves away to plunge into and search for solace in the depths of exhaustion, depression, anxiety, existential fear — and all beginning long before the world shut down and changed irrevocably.
Esben and the Witch — comprising Rachel Davies, Thomas Fisher and Daniel Copeman — began in Brighton in 2008, later decamped to Berlin, and is now split three ways across the UK, Germany and the US. Their winding geographical journey feels representative of their path as a whole. The band have snaked through various scenes and sonic worlds across their 14 years together, while always squirming away from an easy genre classification.
Their first two albums, 2011’s ‘Violet Cries’ and 2013’s ‘Wash the Sins Not Only The Face’ — both released on Matador Records — offered gothic, electronic-tinged dream pop and post-rock. Beginning with the Steve Albini-produced ‘A New Nature’ (2014, self-released on their own Nostromo Records), they came to explore heavier post-punk and metal textures, which they intensified through 2016’s ‘Older Terrors’ and 2018’s ‘Nowhere’ (both via Marseille-based metal label Season of Mist).
In the summer of 2019, the band retreated to a villa outside of Rome, with no expectations or pressures but simply the intention to enjoy each other’s company and see what musical inspiration may arise from that. This is where the rough sketches of the songs that would form ‘Hold Sacred’ came to be.
The songs that were emerging were different than any previous. They’re brooding, gentle, almost ambient; there are no live drums, and the instrumentals comprise simple, sparse guitar and keys. The band used no outside producers or engineers, keeping the process limited to the three of them from start to finish — harkening back to the spirit of their earliest days when Copeman would record them in his bedroom and bathroom.
What the album’s title asks us to hold sacred is all of these little pieces of light, whether they’re found in self-sufficiency, the support of our loved ones, or the spiritual power of the earth. The album’s existence is a tribute to that; in a moment of brokenness, the three human beings of Esben and the Witch held each other up, and helped each other limp through.
“I feel proud of us for staying strong as a trio, as a weird little family that has managed to create something out of the darkness that hopefully shimmers, like a crystal in the mud,” says Davies.
“I am proud of not giving up, of maintaining our integrity throughout. This is the sound of three people who love and support each other, navigating the ever present figure of the black dog; and if we can provide help or solace for anyone else, also haunted, then that is value enough.” Now, from here, anything could happen. “Perhaps this record will be our last, or perhaps it’s just another beginning.”
2023 will be a busy year for Esben & The Witch – more to be revealed early this year.
Find out more via the band’s Facebook