Koop. STWST+KAPU: BELL WITCH, The Keening @ STWST
KONZERT FINDET IN DER STWST-LINZ STATT!!!!!
Nothing’s bigger than life. All vastnesses — expanding space, infinite time — crouch inside of consciousness. On a historical scale, to say nothing of a cosmic one, the individual human life vanishes, and yet it’s the only aperture any of us get into reality. It’s barely there, and it’s all there is.
That’s the paradox Bell Witch drives at. For more than a decade, the Pacific Northwestern doom metal band has sent tides surging over the seawalls of the song form, unraveling conventional expectations about the ways music stations itself in time to absorb a listener’s attention. Rather than seek catharsis, the duo’s songs heave themselves through time at a glacial pace, staving off resolution in favor of a trancelike capsule eternity. Invoking both boundlessness and claustrophobia in the same charged gesture, Bell Witch cultivates a sense of time outside of time, an oasis inside an increasingly frenetic media culture.
For their new album, The Clandestine Gate, bassist Dylan Desmond and drummer Jesse Shreibman exploded Bell Witch’s bounds. Like 2017’s lauded Mirror Reaper, The Clandestine Gate is a single 83-minute track — a composition that pulses and breathes on a filmic timeframe. It constitutes the first chapter in a planned triptych of longform albums, collectively called Future’s Shadow.
The Keening—the solo music project of Rebecca Vernon—weaves a web of lush orchestration, American Gothic
sensibilities and wintry murder ballads set against a backdrop of dark, shimmering folk. Vernon’s previous band
SubRosa echoes in The Keening’s chamber doom, flowing with flute, strings, harp, French horn, piano, organ and
hammered dulcimer. Ultra-melodic forays into haunted bogs, endless wells, secret crimes, jeweled cages and the
unenviable curse of being a murder witness abound. Dark as this sounds, there is always a light at the end of the
Rebecca Vernon was the owner, lead singer, guitarist and primary songwriter of Salt Lake City’s acclaimed SubRosa.
She ended that 13-year project in 2018 to focus on The Keening. Rebecca began writing her first solo album, Little
Bird, soon after. Largely composed at a retreat in Joshua Tree and a friend’s family homestead in Kamas, Utah, the
album was recorded in December 2020 at Hallowed Halls in Portland, Oregon with “Engine-ear” Billy Anderson.
Anderson’s long resume includes such luminaries as Melvins, Neurosis, Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, High on Fire, Bell
Witch, Amenra, Agalloch, Cathedral, Cattle Decapitation, Red House Painters, Sick of it All, Sleep, and Swans.
Anderson collaborated with Vernon and Witch Mountain drummer Nathan Carson as co-producers of the recording
of the album. A host of Portland’s finest session musicians lent their talents to the album, including Andrea Morgan
(Exulansis, Eight Bells, Aerial Ruin) on violin. Little Bird was completed in July 2021, mixed by Billy Anderson and
mastered by Justin Weis at Trakworx in San Francisco.