the 666 – Aural Sects
Departing from the techno of Inigo Kennedy and the electro shimmers of Vector Lovers into the grave wave of netlabel Aural Sects; this week the 666 talks to the label co-founder and witch house obsessive Bunny Frost.
A prolific label, Aural Sects casts a wide net over the witch house sound and resultant splinter cells. Their sound as musically colourful as it is macabre – with the hauntology through to the pop hooks.
Last years showcase session for Mantis Radio a glimpse into the sound and range of the label.
Further to being the oft bearded face of Aural Sects, the Manchurian Bunny’s studio work as Pe† Ceme†ery falls into a more gothpop realm, for want of a better term – with bold synths, vocal melodies and guttural beats shrouded in digital noise and drone.
We chat six of his most essential witch house releases, artists to watch out for; and six influential tracks at the core of the label ethos.
Most of the tracks embedded below can be watched as one with this playlist.
Hi Bunny, welcome to the 666
Hi Mike. This format is actually genuinely fascinating. It’s hard to believe no-one’s thought of it before! I’ve read the couple that are up already, and they made for damned interesting reading.
Thanks so much for asking me to participate.
My pleasure Bunny.
Witch house is how I and many of those familiar with your label Aural Sects came to know you. On that trail of thought; what are six of your must listen witch house / albums / releases?
Alright, this is a toughie. Some of these are bound to controversial, but here it goes:
Salem – King Night
This release literally changed my life.
I rather stubbornly only listened to 80s goth and Crystal Castles (as an exception to the rule) after leaving university after my music degree – I was fed up of being made to listen to strange noises… and so listening to Salem was like discovering a whole new world of sound for my re-cloistered ears – it’s goth, but not as we know it.
Mascara – Silver Knight Gothic
If not for the fact that I’ve actually been listening to this EP for two years now and it’s still on relatively heavy rotation doesn’t say anything, then just take a listen for yourself and you’ll find the music says more than enough for itself.
By turns broody, dancey, and strangely uplifting; this is probably what I’d consider a true legendary release for witch house.
Holy Other – With U
An instant classic, this one. It managed to get right to the emotional root of witch house, whilst clarifying the sound of it, and adding some new and interesting tropes to the mix of saw waves, 808s and chopped vocals (although there’s plenty of the latter).
Also recommended is the Holy Other live experience. Which I’ve seen four times already, and almost each one has left people openly weeping. Very intense. And very, very cool.
WIFE – Stoic
This is by far the most recent addition to the setup, but I’ve been blasting it on the regular since it dropped.
Interweaving vocals, speaking of intimate rituals, over acutely detailed beats, samples, synths, and guitar(!), give the feel of witch house without actually stating it. The artist has recently moved over to one of the labels that helped define the early sound of witch house: Tri-Angle. Which is a bit of a giveaway (also for the record, far and away my favourite label – it also houses Holy Other, see above).
Unison – Unison
Electronic beats, ethereal female vocals, and plenty of shoegazey guitars and synths is pretty much a basic foundation of how to describe Unison, but that only approaches the epicness and weirdness of this record.
Little bits from other genres are brought in on every track to augment these features, so nothing is ever left simple or boring. On the other hand, the first tracks use of “ring around the roses” as the opening sound of the record is fucking terrifying.
CRIM3S – CRIM3S EP
What more is there to say? CRIM3S are the most straightforward, passionate, emotional duo out there in world right now.
Their dedication to their music and their fans is matched only by the ferocity. A glorious little release that packs a massive punch – as well as literally all their songs of the time.
Who’s on your radar and who should be on ours – what six acts should we be keeping an eye on?
TWOS – They released an EP with my label, Aural Sects, recently, and since then this producer has skyrocketed in terms of bloggage and popularity.
No-one knows who they are, but they’ve only been making music around 4 months are based in Europe. Even as a labelhead, that’s all I know. TWOS makes blissful, sun-bleached, emotional beats, in the same sort of vein as Holy Other. Not to be missed.
CRIM3S – The only reason 2012 wasn’t their year was because they got made homeless. Their fanbase is rabid, their music is immense, and I can only see things skyrocketing for them when their new EP drops.
Psychic Rites – Cheating a bit again here. Psychic Rites are again on Aural Sects (hey I wouldn’t sign ’em if I didn’t believe in ’em, right?).
The response to these guys has been phenomenal. My cohort and fellow labelhead at AS described Psychic Rites as “if Arcade Fire went witch-dance“. Fat saw synths, dancey beats, and indie-pop songwriting all combined into one package. We’re planning a US tour with them at the moment, and we’ve heard their gigs are pretty revelatory experiences.
GAPS – I found GAPS on a trawl through some of the lesser known blogs I frequent, and fell instantly in love.
They come from Brighton, and combine very nice (folky) acoustic guitar samples with modern electronic alt-pop production (think Purity Ring). Again, another artist that’s only been making music a few months, and they’re already gigging and garnering a lot of attention for what they do (which is, admittedly, masterful).
Koda – This kid has been tearing up the futuregarage/futurebeats/shoegaze/pop end of things for a while now.
He occupies a very strange and relatively new corner of the musical landscape, but he does everything with such style and aplomb that you’d believe he’d been doing it for years. His latest release recently went up everywhere important, but his permanent home is with Fluorescent Records, based out of Florida, whom Aural Sects considers our baby brother of a label.
Machines in Heaven – This is a Glaswegian band that I can only describe as post-everything.
They’ve got bits of everything in there – EVERYTHING. It’s terrifying, really. The band has grand ambitions of superstardom, and honestly, considering the unanimously positive praise they’ve had thus far, I don’t doubt they’ll reach it. Their recent release Glasgow Jihad EP on Black Lantern Music (s/o to the BLM crew) is well worth a look.
What are six tracks that are at the core of your label and you as part label owner and musician in your own right? The six tracks that have had a heavy influence on you to where you are now?
Psychic Rites – Concrete
Only dropped a few weeks back – IN DEMO FORM – and it completely just made me fall in love with it, and forced me to reflect on not only how good this was for the label, but also just how well I think we’re doing so far. From very much just hoping to get music out to maybe a hundred people at the start to literally thousands now, through our hard work and commitment to our ideas.
Sometimes something weird makes you look around you and makes you think: actually, we’re not awful, are we? Moments like that are nice.
Moon Mirror – Shameless
Moon Mirror will always be, to me, the first person Aural Sects ever approached – outside our circle of friends – for a release.
For that reason alone, this release is special to me, not to mention she understood us instantly and has helped shape the label’s direction from the start, too. On top of that, it was totally and utterly my jam for summer 2011. Ethereal synth pop, with a distinct 80s sci-fi flavour.
BL?CK † CEILING – WVFFLIFE
BC was an act I actually nicked from Black Lantern Music (Scotland-based hip-hop and bass music label, and good friends of ours), who I thought may fare better with us. About two months after dropping an EP with us, he handed us what has now become an honest-to-gods staple of the witch house sound.
†EENWVFF garnered what is, for us, a massive spike in attention from blogs, fans etc, and honestly I think this EP is a stone-cold classic.
Crystal Castles – Doe Deer
Okay, my reasoning here is twofold. Basically, most witch house artists started out as fans of Crystal Castles before diving down into the depths, myself included.
And in my case in particular, I adore the lo-fi crunchiness of this track (I was literally mindblown by it) which then led me onto Salem etc etc. So this track is where I can pin a whole load of my sins…
Burial – Homeless
I came late to Burial, and this was my first exposure, well after Untrue had been out for some time.
For me as an artist it led me on a path to try to incorporate my own past into my tracks, rather than just relentlessly move forward with my short-term influences. A lot of the stuff I’ve written since hasn’t seen the light of day just yet, but I’ve been throwing everything in (including, as Burial does, the old skool UK Garage stuff).
The Cooper Temple Clause – Let’s Kill Music
This is the part where I throw everyone completely off.
As a youngun, TCTC were probably my first glimpse into music on a smaller level than the music industry was trying to throw at me – something relatively DIY, full of passion and energy, made electronics look accessible and interesting, and honestly pushed me to pursue music in a serious way.
I managed to find an early version of this track when the band were garnering buzz before their debut LP (the first time I’d followed a band at that stage, before my teens took full effect). It was loud, it was punk, it was dancey, and they made it look EASY.
I wanted in. And to this day, I still do.