Often times when I experience a show with bands like Bell Witch and Wrekmeister Harmonies it is difficult to put into words. Music such as this is so powerful and emotional. It’s a complex process of taking an emotional response to music and putting it to words that adequately capture the moment. All three bands present at Saint Vitus contained within their lyrics and notes, so many vast layers that by the time I left my mind was reeling a little bit.
Bell Witch is a stripped down doom duo, using just drums, bass and vocals. Drummer, Jesse Shreibman, with his deep, guttural voice was in perfect balance to the more harmonic voice of bassist, Dylan Desmond. Desmond’s voice had a familiar resonation, akin to Buddhist monks in the midst of chanting. The type of reverberation you can feel pass through you. Their music is slow and thick like molasses and you would never miss the instruments they don’t use. Their sound is complete with what they have and they deliver an incredibly rich set.
This tour is in support of their latest album, Four Phantoms, which is a melancholy yet crushing release on Profound Lore. Since their formation in 2010, Bell Witch have continued to grow into their sound. This album is a testament to the exploration the band has done regarding their overall sound and structure.
Bell Witch will be continuing this tour with Wrekmeister Harmonies. I have a huge respect for everything J.R. Robinson does regarding his Wrekmeister work. As I listened to their set, I felt as if I was staring down a deep, dark hole. The music is so complex and full of raw emotion, I have never been able to listen without having goosebumps at one point or another.
The set started quietly with gentle piano and violin and crescendoed into a melancholic tidal wave that violently ripped me out of my present state and sent me down an abyss. Desmond and Shreibman of Bell Witch joined the stage about halfway through the set, filling out the deep landscape of sound, each musician taking cues from Robinson, beginning and ending at precisely timed moments.
Insect Ark had the task of getting the crowd primed for this musical journey and there couldn’t have been a better band for the job. Dana Schechter, who is a woman of unfathomable talent, had the crowd mesmerized with her haunting sounds on her lap steel guitar. She was joined by Laura Ortman on violin and together they hypnotized the crowd with their beautiful and eerie dueling sounds.
As I left this show, I felt like I had experienced something many people don’t have the chance to. It seems rare to be able to ebb and flow through three bands so gracefully but I felt as if I had seen a symphony, all tasked with different emotions and journeys. I am not one who can convey my emotional connection to music very eloquently. So in the hopes that anyone reading will understand this connection, I will close with a quote from philosopher Emil Cioran.
“There are musical souls that have no musical education. We are born with a number of vibrations our sadness brings into relief. We carry within us all the music we have never heard in our life, which lies at the bottom of the abyss of memory. All that is musical in us is memory. When we did not have a name, we must have heard everything. Music exists only as remembrance of paradise and of the Fall.” Tears and Saints
Insect Ark (Click on thumbnail to open Gallery)
Wrekmeister Harmonies (Click on thumbnail to open Gallery)
Bell Witch (Click on thumbnail to open Gallery)