Caden Moore is the obscure figure behind Lake R▲dio, and he’s made his first two EPs, Blair and The Weather, available as free downloads. Moore’s being linked with the burgeoning ‘witch house’ scene, and he clearly shares a lot of the aesthetic trappings. Witch house (also labelled ‘haunted house’, ‘ghost drone’ or ‘drag’) is a mysterious, occult-fixated, geographically-dispersed movement of artists who take influence from ‘chopped and screwed’ hip hop – an early-90’s technique of remixing hip hop that slowed down street-rap’s flow to create a drugged out, eerie sound. Other characteristics of witch house include ghostly vocal samples, a fascination with ritualism and symbolism (reflected in the use of upper/lower class punctuation, triangular symbols etc) and the twisting inside-out of conventional pop songs. Flagship artists include SALEM and WHITE RING.
Whether or not Lake R▲dio can be considered part of this scene is up for debate: the self-appointed gatekeepers of the Lastfm witch house group, for one, think not. But it may be just as well if he’s considered an outsider, considering that the ‘fad’ backlash against the genre has begun already. In any case, the music on these two EPs covers a lot of stylistic ground. Blair begins with a jarring, inhuman 56-second incantation, before giving way to the claustrophobic, jittering electronica of ‘Every Little Thing’. It’s an engaging sound that continues with ‘Chant’, living up to its title with whispered, slightly sinister-sounding vocals over a vaguely exotic backing and unsettling, alien sound effects. ‘Lake Radio’, meanwhile, has an almost tropical vibe, and is strongly reminiscent of Swedish duo Wildbirds & Peacedrums.
The Weather has more treats in store. ‘кулинария’ takes La Roux’s ‘Bulletproof’ and distorts/abuses it to within an inch of its life, producing a deranged alter-ego version. ‘VCR Operation’ is chilled, delightful Gold Panda-esque electronica, while ‘Martin Hannett’s Ghost’ takes Joy Division’s haunted, desolate ‘The Eternal’, subtracts Ian Curtis’ vocals, and adds distant but soulful female ones: the bleak backdrop drives home the desperation of the “i need someone” refrain.
Overall, Blair and The Weather have enough sonic similarities to the witch house pack to be regarded as kindred spirits at least. Not that any outside validation is necessary: taken on their own terms, these two records are eclectic, strange, atmospheric and frequently compelling. Well worth investigation.