In the beginning there was Party Trash. According to Scripture, the Genesis of the true Witch House sound started promptly with those early Disaro releases. In years to come, those ghettofied handwritten CD-R’s may be as collectible and coveted as DJ Screw’s Gray Maxells. Along with artists like ///▲▲▲\\\ (VOID) and White Ring, Joe Volmer’s work as Party Trash helped to solidify the most common sound to be found among thee Triangle Cult. His love of dark musical landscapes and Southern hip hop served as the drawing board for plenty of artists to come. So why is it that he seems to be putting some distance between him and the new spooky kids now?
Rather than go with Disaro, Party Trash chose to release his new LP Alone on Bandcamp. The choice had nothing to do with any Soap Operatics or financial situations. Instead, Volmer just felt the need to distance himself from the more obvious and base misconceptions surrounding Witch House. It was the right decision. Stripped of pseudo gothery, Volmer’s new album more closely resembles early Warp than it does early Salem. Composed of short and slow sketches of sound, it is reminiscent of older Aphex Twin played at 16 RPM.
This seems to be a trend among the artists associated with Witch House in the early days. As a new crop of artists emerge, all with strict and stringent ideas about what Witch House is supposed to sound like; many other artists seem to be pulling back from the fold. The usual suspects keep on releasing the usual music on the usual net labels, but all the interesting sounds seem to come from the periphery.
Once you gaze into the looking glass, you find a virtual nanoscene, complete with a mainstream of its own. For a microgenre of music that can probably only boast at most 10,000 worldwide fans, it is pretty intricate stuff. As if grown from a petri-dish containing music industry DNA, the little Witch House sub-scene keeps growing at an enormous rate. My guess is that the encouragement for EVERYONE to participate helps the community to flourish. To this day, new names pop up in the social networks daily, some will get bored, as their tracks get passed over; but others will stay and grow, make connections and attempt to progress within the game’s unscripted environment.
I’ve taken to calling it RPG Funk, because that’s exactly what it is. It’s like WoW coupled with Soundcloud. The real magic lies in the fact that in order for the game to work, people have to create actual art to talk about. Due to this, there actually is some really tremendous work coming from what is, essentially, a fabrication. A fictitious genre of music made to fuel the strangest MMORPG on the internet today.
This is also what holds many of the artists back. It is hard to take a movement seriously, when the movement itself admits to the joke. This is also where the divisions lie. The fracture that exists is not simply a difference in opinions, but the result of too many diverse influences stuffed into one very small room. Some of the artists involved seem happy to give the public what they want, carefully crafting a fictitious “sound” based upon the model of older Disaro, Mater Susperia Vison but almost totally devoid of any of the urban or hip hop influence that made the original sound so exciting. Another faction seems intent on fucking it up. Artists like iJesus Khrist, Witchboy and Haruki Tamesue revel in the dichotomy of extreme reverence and almost utter obscurity. A third faction, consisting of artists like ▼▲▼Vagina Vangi and Unison are carefully trying to elevate the sound into something very closely resembling synthpop.
There is no real animosity, although there is a festering sense of territorial disputes. Those with dreams of turning the sound into the next dark chillwave have a constant fear that the iconoclasts will forever cast a shadow of chaos and disarray, making it almost impossible for the scene to progress into a mainstream movement. At the same time, the wreckers of sound find it almost offensive to actually consider opening the game up to the general public. In their eyes, the entire gameboard was created to keep away from the norms, who would ruin the fun with boring and pedestrian ideas. It really isn’t a matter of who is going to win, because the game is so open ended that there are many ways to reach the final boss battle. In a lot of ways it is a weird mirror of late ‘80s and early ‘90s tagging crews, where rival crews judged their merits by either going all city or becoming the most notorious or hated (by hitting harder spots, being known as brawlers etc…)
But back to Party Trash. His self released album was so good it gained the attention of Clan Destine Records, perhaps the only label around dedicated to producing quality music regardless of genre-lisms. Clan Destine decided to release it as a limited edition cassette, proving Joe’s theory that he did not need to dwell on the past to prove himself today. Those of you tied to the digital world can pick up MP3s or FLACs for $5 via Bandcamp (check the player below).
He recently released a series of YouTube Synthesizers. The concept is simple, let them load and used the number keys to ‘play’ foreboding and dramatic witch house sounds (you will have to click and play from within the You Tube website, as the function keys don’t work on the embed.) He assured me he made them simply for fun, but I personally see them as a commentary on the disposable sounds that threaten to destroy what was once a pure vessel of experimentation and creativity.- Nattymari