The latest in a line of voluminously cold neo-goth acts, Britain’s Esben and the Witch create shadowy ambiance, melding dark folk inclinations (their name, after all, comes from a grim Danish fairy tale) with abstract tableaus of sound. The group’s MySpace once listed their influences as “glaciers, caverns and waning moons,” which seems to match pretty well the haunted moods their songs evoke through an instrumental austerity which somehow harkens to the natural world. Their debut LP, “Violet Cries,” is a Grimoire laced with such drifty, moor-like passages. On “Light Streams,” cymbal washes and vocal reverb create the effect of encroaching fog while a meandering guitar riff mimics falling rain in its repetition. The subterranean world of caves is pictured in “Hexagons IV,” with far-away guitar notes, low tom ragas and a building cascade of echoes. Throughout, the record is carried aloft by Rachel Davies’ vocals, which figure a sort of barrow-dwelling ghost of Florence Welch. In Esben’s own words, “visceral, romantic and at times claustrophobic,” this is music to wake the sleeping beasts which populate the lower world of our subconscious. (David Wicik)
Esben and the Witch play March 10 at The Empty Bottle, 1035 North Western, (773)276-3600, 9:30pm. $10.