If you were an individual with the gift of foresight and a bit of financial savvy, you’d have sunk a healthy chunk of change into stocks for the eyeliner business when it must’ve rock-bottomed in the early ’00s. With the goth trend just slipping back out of the mainstream foothold it had so bizarrely held at the end of the millennium, you’d have been able to sweep them up for pennies on the dollar (think right around the time Hot Topic started selling Legend of Zelda-themed swimwear, or when SNL stopped airing Goth Talk sketches). Fast forward roughly one decade and you’d now start seeing a return on your investment with bands like Esben and the Witch, Austra, and Zola Jesus bringing neo-gothic sounds back into the spotlight.
Hexagons, Esben and the Witch’s second EP (and third release) of the year, features six songs with numbered titles, purposed to expand on ideas in Hexagons, a track from last winter’s Violet Cries. Things start out quietly with Hexagons I (The Fall), a guitar picking a spooky, slow melody over a light drone before Rachel Davies’ spectral vocals kick in. Hexagons II (The Flight) is a more complete-sounding song, with impellent percussion, a weaving guitar riff, and a more straight-forward structure. Hexagons V (The Cast) is the EP’s most ethereal, letting Davies’ voice soar above a lower, menacing instrumental bottom end.
The one thing Esben and the Witch does remarkably well with Hexagons is establish a consistent, ghostly atmosphere right from the beginning and all the way through to the end with Hexagons VI (The Thaw), a dissonant, nearly-instrumental closer. The EP does stray a bit at its looser moments, but more or less it’s a moody, enticing journey for the whole length of its 20 short minutes.
Essential Songs: Hexagons II (The Flight)