Getintothis’ Orla Foster on a bewitching night of darkness at the Kazimier.
Teeth of the Sea are a band who know how to create an atmosphere. Not a word is uttered, not a lyric professed. There are teetering post-rock interludes, crashing metal eardrum-perforators and crescendoes of orchestral cymbal-whacking splendour.
The band themselves are seething, hulking figures who lurch across the stage with quite genuine menace. Instrumentally, their roles don’t seem fixed. You don’t know who is going to pick up the drumsticks next. You don’t know where those sticks are going to land. You don’t quite want to hang around to find out.
Tonight’s headliners Esben and the Witch operate in a similar manner. By this I mean there are no cosy asides, no polka dots, no cheerful guitar licks or singalongs. Instead, the Brighton trio, long hair falling enigmatically across their faces, deliver a brand of funereal goth rock to chill the cockles off you.
Esben and the Witch, if you wondered, ply a brooding opus which is not peppered with laughs.
It’s hard to pick out individual words from the succession of wails which pour from singer Rachel Davies‘ throat, though a previous listen has taught me they like bullets through hearts, blackened veins, Icarus and plummeting from a jetty.
Still, these aren’t unpleasant wails, and ring out as crystalline as a church bell letting you know somebody’s died.
Siouxsie-Sioux is the obvious comparison. It’s music that thunders and chimes and thrashes towards some nightmarish fantasy; sacrifice and pallbearing aplenty.
Teeth of the Sea’s incredible axe wielder Jimmy Martin.
It doesn’t hurt that the stage is lit like a coven. Even without all the hair you’d struggle to pick out any of the band’s faces, cooking up an atmosphere that is as theatrical as it is sombre. If you had hankered after a spot of table-turning, tonight would be the night.
There are upbeat moments, too, sudden inflated electronic sections to keep you from feeling dour, and there’s no mistaking the energy of the band. They manage to physically embody the haunting ambience they’ve created by acting possessed, with alternate members electing to whack the drum whenever the spirit tells them to.
There seem to be a glut of acts at the minute who want to reclaim the ‘gothic’ tag. We’re being implored to forget the tattooed buxom ladies exploding out of corsets and look towards something more ethereal.
This seems like a pretty good idea, although music as po-faced as this surely can’t have much of a life span. It’s impressive to witness, but too restricted to its own doom-laden aesthetic to ever really surprise or entertain.
The set ends in keeping with the percussive mania of the night. A drum is hoicked into the audience’s patch and pummelled with venom as lightning flashes overhead and a flock of bats descend. It’s a nice touch to close a forceful, decidedly atmospheric performance.
Earlier, opening proceedings were Anna Lena and the Orchids, as dainty a proposition as the name might suggest.
Norwegian singer-songwriter Anna Lena and her genteel band of Orchids bring a batch of introspective ditties with vocals which are sweet yet tinged with a brand of melancholy.
A strong point about the Kazimier is that it’s easy for the audience to seem rapt, with many people seated like obedient children in a semi-circle about the stage as the personable Anna Lena invites audience members to pick up their free EP from the porch while thanking everybody for coming along. We’re glad we did.
Pictures courtesy of Dani CantÃ³.