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Sexwitch - Sexwitch (Album Review)

Monday, 28 September 2015 Written by Ben Bland

It was easy to be sceptical about Sexwitch upon its announcement. True, news of a collaboration between Natasha Khan, better known as Bat for Lashes, and middling psychedelic rockers Toy wasn’t something to be particularly concerned, or necessarily excited, about. Yet the modus operandi of the project’s self-titled debut – to rework and translate songs picked up in countries including Iran, Morocco and Thailand – did set alarm bells ringing. The line between influence and cultural appropriation is a fine one.

Thankfully, ‘Sexwitch’ dodges the problematic bullets flying in this territory. This is an album full of genuine reworkings, not patronising world music pastiches. Pleasingly, it’s also not simply a Toy record with Natasha Khan on vocals. This record is alive. It has a thundering pulse, dancing to the beat of its own drum with surprising ease.

It’s sensual too, probably more so than any Bat for Lashes record to date. The grooves are both thunderously hypnotic and savagely danceable. Khan’s voice is used as an instrument as much anything else, her varying styles of delivery and occasional wordless additions proving just as significant to the sound palette as the guitars.

The first four (of six) tracks are delightful, this potent combination of ingredients combining to greatest effect on the truly addictive Ha Howa Ha Howa.

‘Sexwitch’ only really falls down, in fact, on its penultimate hurdle. War in Peace, the only song on the album not translated (it’s a Skip Spence cover), doesn’t fit with the rest of the material here.

It lacks the intensity of the rest of the album, feeling dangerously close to throwaway for much of its duration. This, in turn, does somewhat negate the impact of closer Lam Plearn Kiew Bao, which is fragile but captivating on its own terms.

Despite this conclusion to the album, Sexwitch’s debut is a confident and vibrant record. By looking to international inspirations the collaborators have adeptly created something that serves both as an admirable homage to its influences and as a relatively subtle – but nonetheless significant – reinvention of the musical profiles of its creators. More where this came from please.

Sexwitch Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue September 29 2015 - LONDON London XOYO

Click here to compare & buy Sexwitch Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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