Sophomore release of French Ambient outfit Witxes (pronounced “witches”) with A Fabric of Beliefs, soon to be dropping on Denovali Records.
A Fabric of Beliefs is self confessed as being an introspection, an album that explores the concepts surrounding faith and belief structures and their relationship with our lives and their continuously evolving, shifting nature. We begin with the “Through Abraxas” suite, comprised of three tracks, and the opener is dark, very dark. I’ll admit that I had to Google what Abraxas is, and even coming away from a number of fairly extensive websites I’m still rather uncertain, which is possibly the intention of Witxes here. All I can tell you is that Abraxas is a part of Gnosticism, a religion that promotes the shunning the material world for the promotion of the spiritual, and that Abraxas is a god-like figure in the vein of Zeus or Jupiter, a supreme ruler over lesser deities. “Through Abraxas I” begins to set in motion this idea of a fabric in the truest sense; a silky yet menacing drone introduces the track, the fundamental profile of the “material”, yet this makes way to a disturbed, oscillating electronica pitted with bumps and grooves, the seams of the fabric itself.
It ends abruptly, switching back to cruise mode with dark and piercing drone once more taking up the mantle as we move into “Through Abraxas II”, a low key piece that prefers the company of quiet guitar rather than electronica. I cant speak too much about it as the third installment in the Abraxas trilogy comes up on the horizon hard and fast in a flurry of abrasive electric guitar, a tumult of brash music as we pass through the eye of Abraxas and begin to leave the whole mess behind us, terminating abruptly as our knowledge of the ancient religion passes into the unknown and obscure as we move into “The Strands”, a careful network of syncopated guitars, gentle piano and percussion. Indeed, this network is so careful that I barely notice the transition to the rather creepy woodwinds of “The Apparel”.
Things pass by quite comfortably and serenely until the brilliant yet short “The Breach” arrives mid-album, a brief interlude of bleeps and noise that help to break the monotony and diffuse the tension just a little bit as we move into the gorgeous “The Visited”. Is this some kind of allusion to those who have had apparitions, religious encounters? Perhaps. It has a serene and welcoming tone at first, one of acceptance and belief, but it moves quickly into something darker, something more sceptical as these Clubroot-esque Dubstep beats (the slow and dark and big kind) thump and throb along before it too drifts into nothingness as the moment passes into obscurity.
“The Weavers” introduces us to the people who spin the fabric, us essentially, the true sources of faith and the genesis of religious beliefs. Predictably it’s a dark and vast affair, and underlying the surficial rhythmic clapping there is a seedy underbelly of abrasive processed guitar and drone, knitting and weaving the fabric. It’s an interesting juxtaposition against followup “The Pilgrim”, a track filled with complicated textures swilling around, most notably the saxophone which is an interesting and pleasant addition. But it is a confusing track that mirrors the true relationship between those that preach and those that follow; the “weavers” have something of a one track, uncomplicated arrangement where they generate the material necessary for the religion’s existence which is processed, interpreted and modified in the minds of the followers. Interestingly we also have “The Turned”, a track which follows a similar tack to “The Weavers”; interpret that how you will, my head is too full of ideology.
It’s time to serenade us out and “The Moonlit Passage” does this effortlessly. It really, really reminds me of another artist and it’s killing me trying to think of who it is, it’s on the tip of my tongue, but it’s gorgeous regardless. Its gently rising crescendo of guitar and shining synth drones is as emotional as it is enigmatic. My only qualm is how short it is; I could happily listen to an entire album of it, I love it. And that concludes our religious introspection; it’s pretty heavy stuff once you begin to put it under a microscope and I’m not sure that ever really eases off. The album has some pretty excellent flow but this isn’t something I dont think you can approach casually; Witxes designed this to be a conceptual album and he did a pretty fine job doing that in my opinion. This for me is truly one of the better albums of the year; I’m incredibly grateful and flattered that Maxime sent me his album pre-release, and I loved it. You can check out a preview and buy the album from the label here.