Witch house is somewhat of a secretive genre, befitting of its dark roots. Artists choose symbols over names to keep the movement underground – at least, that’s how the story goes. Indeed, Ritualz is typically represented as the incredibly search engine-unfriendly †‡† but it’s a safe bet that his PR may have suggested a print-friendly version. Mystique is all very well and good but if no one knows you, nor can find you, it makes life a little tough for those trying to promote you.
Tonight is Ritualz’ big debut show in London, appropriately in the caverns of CAMP Basement. Although attendance is small, it serves only to reinforce the mystery of an artist who prefers the shadows. Seeringly loud, Ritualz’s drone beats jab a little at first but the feeling subsides as the music continues. Dark and bewitching, there are elements of ’80s goth haze, although less so than in Londoner supports Design a Wave. Hip-hop drum beats collide with eerie, atmospheric undercurrents; misty vocals reverberate in distortion. Ominous and enveloping, Ritualz’s sinister hiss rattles ghoulishly. A rhythm picks up, but skipped beats and shifting tempos mean dancing becomes entertainingly out of step. In the dull gloom of CAMP, the slowed-down synth sounds become shadowy stories.
As a name, witch house sounds preposterously silly, but the seriousness with which this dramatic, evocative sound is delivered makes it appealing, like a ghost train for adults. Only problem is the ringing in our ears suggests the loss of a few of the lower frequencies. Pack the earplugs for next time.