In all horror trilogies number 2 usually seems to lack something that number 1 possessed. Maybe the element of surprise? Maybe there’s a touch of “I’ve seen this already” as tropes are revisited and not expanded on. Or maybe it just loses a bit of its luster when the first one was so damn good. Scream outshines Scream 2. Halloween is far superior to Halloween 2. Hellraiser and Hellraiser 2? No comparison in my book, guys and gals. And do I even need to bring up Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge? I didn’t think so.
But here’s the thing, I believe Burning Witches Records have taken the trilogy formula and tweaked it to perfection. Last Friday BWR released Pieces Vol. 1, a split EP with Burning Tapes and Repeated Viewing laying down the eerie vibes over a cassette side each. It was pure dread and joy. Now today, they have unleashed onto an unsuspecting world Pieces Vol. 2. Espectrostatic and All of Them Witches create doomy, Gothic moods and swirls over two cassettes sides this time, and the results are exquisite, exotic, and pull you into their worlds instantly.
Alex Cuervo’s Espectrostatic makes music that is dark, intricate, and animated. He works in the usual electronic formats, but also records with real drums and instruments. His sound is a very organic one; pulled from the earth and reanimated thru his imagination and production skills. Just spin his last full-length release with Burning Witches, the excellent Silhouette, for proof of his amazing skills in the studio. Or better yet, check out his amazing song “The Locust Accord” off the RSD comp Communion. That track perfectly sums up the Espectrostatic aesthetic. If Danny Elfman were to truly go dark and Gothic I think he may sound a bit like Alex Cuervo.
But I digress.
Pieces Vol. 2.1, an uncanny milieu, opens with Espectrostatic laying down a cloud of dread on the excellent “A Dream About The Lake”. It’s a hazy opening to some other realm, with swaths of synth accompanied by vibes before jumping into “Balete Drive”. This track feels like an inevitable doom just waiting around the corner. The rhythm of clicks and clacks sounds like bones being used as percussive instruments. The sonic world of Espectrostatic opens its door for us to step into with this track. “The Odd Estate” is more about sonic manipulation, like pulling the air from a room and turning it into dark noise and twisted melody. “Simulacrum” is a Western theme, if the western took place in the underworld. Like some post-apocalyptic Texas and an expansive 4-hour drive between Lubbock and eternity. I could hear this music playing on the road to oblivion. It’s this animated, giddy theme that feels as if it could turn ugly any minute. This is what Espectrostatic does best, man. “Kowloon Apartment” rattles and shakes like some unearthed ancient being trying to break from its mortal shackles. Growling and growing more impatient with every second, the track twists and turns till its final conclusion. “Tendrils” is more slow-burning. It’s the end of our trip with Espectrostatic, and as much as we’d like to be shaken a bit more by Mr. Cuervo, “Tendrils” leaves us satisfied.
Please flip your cassette. Thank you.
All of Them Witches knows how to build a dark and brooding mood. Gary Dimes did some amazing things on Hunters Moon earlier this year, and on Pieces Vol. 2 things stay that way. Where Espectrostatic seemed to take us on a journey very well grounded in the black, dead soil on an extinguished Earth, AoTW takes us into the black, dead expanse of space.
Pieces Vol. 2.2, or Orion 2079, opens on the heavy synth expanse of “Opening Chapter”, which leads right into “Pursuit” which sounds like a deep space panic attack. I’m reminded a bit of Brad Fiedel’s excellent score for the original Terminator film. “Army of Magnus” bubbles and pops with pure heavy synth dread. This is old school vibes with a new school touch. “Alleyway Pursuit” has a bit of a 70s strut to it. You can almost imagine this chase taking place in some darkened street.
All of Them Witches builds these little moments that work up to the finale that is “Existential Despair”. An almost Gothic tome, with sorrowful synths and vocals that seem to be coming from deep space; sad and melancholy. It’s a definitive period at the end of Orion 2079.
The trilogy formula has been rewritten. Pieces Vol. 2 does not lag behind its predecessor. It builds on the moods created by Burning Tapes and Repeated Viewing and continues to create this sonic worlds where we can visit and get lost in. Espectrostatic and All of Them Witches work together to make Pieces Vol. 2 as engaging and deep as what came before.
Pieces Vol. 2 is out today. Head over to Burning Witches Records’ Bandcamp page and download it now.