Scott Morrow is ALARM’s music editor. Patrick Hajduch is a very important lawyer. Each week they debate the merits of a different album.
†‡†: untitled CD-R (Disaro, 9/9/10)
†‡†: “Goth BB”
[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Ritualz_Goth_BB.mp3|titles=†‡† (Ritualz): “Goth BB”]
Morrow: Verbalized and alternately written as Ritualz, †‡† is an unnamed man from an unknown location, making a relatively dark and/or Gothic version of electronic dance music. He has been lumped with the “witch house” scene, which also has been dubbed “drag,” “haunted house,” and a few other things.
His sound is comparable to contemporaries like Salem, oOoOO, Mater Suspiria Vision, etc., and he’s far from the only one with the very-difficult-to-Google name. There’s also I††, ▲▲▲, and other random combinations of symbols.
Hajduch: I wish all this “witch house” stuff didn’t sound the same to me. I can get behind the spooky atmospherics, the noisy, cluttered mid-range, the rave synths, and the huge 808 kicks. Unfortunately, a bunch of weed-heads in Carhartt jackets making near-identical-sounding music doesn’t appeal to me. (I like my near-identical-sounding music coming from English dudes in the ’90s with ponytails and analog synths.)
Morrow: I agree that a good portion of this sub-genre blends together, but that could be said for a lot of them. From what I’ve heard, I like the Ritualz stuff more than most.
After hearing some of this material online, I wasn’t expecting the first track to be quite so melodic. But that’s really because the second track, “Goth BB” (which has been on the guy’s MySpace for a while), is so dark by contrast with the scary synth line and tormented screams.
As a whole, though, it’s not very spooky; it’s more like music for a brooding dance party. Salem’s material is noisier and a little more epic, and the recent Gnaw Their Tongues album (recently reviewed in The Metal Examiner) is much, much more terrifying. But to clarify, this is not a bad thing; †‡† strikes a good balance between songwriting and creating an aural aesthetic.
Hajduch: The first track is huge. It reminds me of Oneohtrix Point Never with drums that bang a little more. The CD-R as a whole has a lot more synthesizer worship than what I’d expect; “Psychic Teens” does that cold, meandering, repeated-phrase thing pretty well, and when the 909 kick comes in towards the end (right in line with the golden ratio), it’s a perfect complement.
And the follow-up, “Kvltstep,” does not really sound like the black-metal/dubstep hybrid that the name would indicate. It actually wouldn’t be out of place on the Roll the Dice album that we recently discussed (at least until the obligatory wobbly trance synth comes in). “San Marino” is a remarkably pretty detuned bit of melancholy synth pop, like a female-fronted Depeche Mode through broken speakers.
Morrow: The whole thing is only seven tracks, and Ritualz is very much in his infancy with this stuff. (Side note: you can read more about his story later this fall in Chromatic: The Crossroads of Color and Music.) Because these songs seem to have been written at different times, they feel a little disjointed, but I assume that he’ll better refine his sound with a full-length album (and a recording budget).