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    The first via the green ideas blog
    Original Source: … urest.html

    February 17, 2006
    only the purest of ores will do
    Witch – Rip Van Winkle (mp3 link at source…)

    When I was seized last week by a mysterious compulsion to search madly for information on Kurt and Asa from Feathers’ metal side-project (which is called Embalmed by Vastness- more on them at a later date), I stumbled across an unlikely collaboration they had struck up: one with J. Mascis and Dave Sweetapple, in a heavy metal band named Witch; I was even more surprised to see that Kurt sings and writes the lyrics, Asa plays guitar, Mascis is on drums (!!), and Dave is on bass. Both songs I’ve heard are amazing.

    ‘Rip Van Winkle’ features Kurt’s version of the titular story, sung in his light, airy voice (cuts through the snariness of Asa’s riffs and Dave’s tarred bass), there’s a strong melody to the song, but hell- most of this is about Asa’s guitar, which is showcased at every turn, quick pit stops and flare-ups during the song, where Asa rolls out note upon shimmering note. The climax, at 3:52- with Kurt screaming "he had grown old" (Rip’s shock in the story providing the dramatic tension here), and the mirrored grief of the guitar and bass along with a flash of temper from Mascis’ drums- makes this song spectacular (I esp. love that little breakdown that ends the track).

    Witch has a 7" single out now (‘Soul of Fire’ b/w ‘Rip Van Winkle’), and the self-titled full-length is due for release in early March on Tee Pee Records. If anyone’s going to SXSW, you can catch the band live on Saturday, March 18 (8.00PM) @ Redrum Annex, with a bunch of other Tee Pee bands. You can buy the 7" over here (and a Witch t-shirt, if you’re so inclined).

    Since we’re talking metal, and since I’ll take even the most tenuous connection as a reason to post some Tim Hecker (genius), here’s a track from his gorgeously dark "Mirages": Tim Hecker – The Truth of Accountants (mp3 link at source…)

    Posted by Kevin at February 17, 2006 09:23 AM

    The second is from the clicky clicky music blog
    Original Source: … witch.html

    There’s nothing particularly distinctive about Dinosaur Jr. fronter and guitarist J. Mascis’ drumming, despite drums being the instrument he initially cut his musical teeth with while playing in the early ’80s Western Massachusetts hardcore act Deep Wound. Far from innocuous, certainly, but it’s not like each snare crack screams out "J!" "J!" "J!" either. As such, there aren’t any real Dinosaur Jr.-ish fingerprints on the eponymous debut from stoner rock purveyors Witch, a combo in which Mascis once again mounts the drummer’s stool. But then again nobody said Witch was simply the J. Mascis show. The coven also includes bassist David Sweetapple as well as considerably younger cats Kyle Thomas and Asa Irons of Vermont free-folk octet Feathers on vocals and guitar respectively. The whole package is mid-tempo, smokey and sludgy, and it calls to mind the more mystical side of early Black Sabbath (the Witch track "Changing" even seems to give a nod to Sabbath’s classic "After Forever," which has been covered by krishnacore act Shelter and Biohazard among others). "Hand of Glory" roars to conclusion with some screaming lead guitar and is an album highlight, as is opener "Seer," a seven-minute epic packed with van-rocking guitar that swirls like bats overhead as it navigates a nefarious bridge at about the five-minute mark. Witch streets March 7 on Tee Pee Records. Dino Jr. fan site’s forums seem to have some solid data on Witch live dates, which have to be wedged in whenever possible inbetween the spate of Dinosaur Jr. dates that are now inked. We’re working on confirming these, but they look pretty reputable:

    03/18 — Redrum Annex — Austin, TX
    03/22 — Black Cat — Washington, DC
    03/23 — NorthSix — Brooklyn, NY
    03/24 — Abbey Lounge — Cambridge, MA
    03/25 — Iron Horse — Northampton, MA
    04/29 — Wesleyan University — Middletown, CT

    posted by jbreitling @ 2/21/2006 09:48:00 PM



    Here’s the Pitchfork review:

    [Tee Pee; 2006]
    Rating: 7.6

    Forget the dog, kids: 2006 is ostensibly the year of the Mascis. Not only are Dinosaur Jr. back for reunion tours and catalog reissuing, but my favorite wah-loving stoner is revisiting his Deep Wound and Upsidedown Cross days on the side, drumming for doom quartet Witch. Mascis handled Dinosaur’s thunder toms when Murph wasn’t around (see Green Mind), but in Witch, it’s his singular role: no blistering solos or perfect "Freak Scene" poetry, just airtight rolls and bass-drum thuds.

    Spanning the psych-metal/folk divide, two of Witch’s members also play in the airy Vermont octet Feathers, perhaps known best as the backup crew on Devendra Banhart’s anti-war song, "Heard Somebody Say" (although their pleasant forthcoming full-length on Gnomonsong should change that). Here, singer/guitarist Kyle Thomas and guitarist Asa Irons follow the footsteps of folk-rock genre-hoppers like Six Organs of Admittance’s Ben Chasny, ably increasing the volume and peeling the tie-dye from the walls.

    Fans of the legendary SST doom-metal band Saint Vitus will likely find this stuff to be fun, if hardly original. Just don’t confuse them with Swedish Pentagram lovers Witchcraft. Actually, okay, confuse them if you want: There are plenty of similarities in the rollicking instrumentation and occult lyricism. The 1970s-style metal cross-referencing would make for a smoking double bill, but Witch inhales more Zeppelin with its Sabbath. Also, Witch’s Thomas sounds nothing like Witchcraft vocalist/guitarist Magnus Pelander; instead, he warbles like Jason Simon of Dead Meadow or, oddly enough, the Apples in Stereo’s Robert Schneider.

    But whatever the proper analogue or crib sheet– and regardless of the starpower Mascis brings to the proceedings– the Feathers boys are the stars of Witch: The album’s best moments result from the torrid dual guitar solos, the well-textured feedback, and how the heavy atmosphere contrasts with Thomas’ sweetly nasal howl. And that howl is fantastic, especially when Witch aims for epic extrapolations as on the mountainous "Black Saint". He also contributes a supernatural spark to epic opener "Seer" (those riffs!) and the rising/falling "Rip Van Winkle", which should take 10 years off any self-respecting banger’s lifespan. (It is sorta strange, though, that this Dead Meadow-sounding dude is from Feathers and Dead Meadow’s newest album was called Feathers. Are they sharing the incense and blacklights or what?)

    Renaissance Faire love song "Isadora" provides a pace change with dramatic cymbal washes/crashes and acoustic starlings, but the more expansive stuff works best: "Soul of Fire"’s boogie, for example, is less appealing than rifftastic "Changing"’s glorious bongwater drone. "Changing" also inserts resounding Druidic bell tolls and harmonies dipped in the magic circle and zodiac cloak. And whenever the shit seems to patter into the shadows, a whirlwind of guitar takes off and the boys bong out a few more rounds. These are such rich landscapes, all mossy and backed with an inked sky, it’s like they live in an Arik Roper sunset.

    Fans of doom and 70s psychedelia have hefty decisions to make these days, so if your budget’s limited, here’s how things stand on the Sabbath meter: Witch holds my attention more forcefully than the Sword or Pearls & Brass, but less gloriously than Om or Sleep. There’s an energy and charisma in this dosage that I find lacking in some of the younger contemporaries. Really, it could be totally nerve-wrackingly debilitating to solo and scream in front of an icon of Mascis’ stature, but Thomas imparts himself wonderfully. In fact, by the closing notes of the album’s finale, I always forget it’s J who’s manning the drumkit at all.

    -Brandon Stosuy, March 15, 2006

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