Words About Music
oOoOO “Without Your Love”
If I were to say the phrase “witch house,” most people might think of some sort of dark, spooky house where witches live for some reason. But for a select group of avid music listeners, witch house is a sub-genre of house music that combines elements of chopped and screwed hip-hop with dark ambient sounds, synthpop, and shoegazing, while taking a ton of inspiration from early industrial acts as well as the recent chillwave movement, as well as relying heavily on themes of the occult.. The term “witch house” was originally meant as a joke, but it is still used to describe acts such as Grimes, Salem, Clams Casino, Zola Jesus, and oOoOO.
oOoOO (pronounced Oh) is considered one of the pioneers of this movement, which is also called the Drag sound. The project, created by San Franciscan Chris Dexter, made its debut with its self-titled EP in 2010, but it would take three more years for a proper full length debut to come into fruition. That debut, titled “Without Your Love,” is now here and it’s been fairly anticipated among those who appreciate the Drag sound.
“Without Your Love” is certainly not a horrific debut album, in terms of content. It is pretty much everything that witch house is and should be, all rolled up into a 40-minute album, but unfortunately for Chris Dexter, witch house is not the kind of genre that is always interesting for 40 minutes. This is part of what made his EPs so captivating. They were short, concise, and delightfully creepy, but did not overstay their welcome. I can’t always say the same about “Without Your Love.” It’s an eerie album, sure, but I feel like Chris could have worked a little harder on some of these tracks to make them more atmospheric and feel less like ideas. There are some great songs on here, some of the best ones to be released from this project, but there are others that could have been so much better if they’d been touched up and improved. Despite what I said earlier, maybe if more of these songs were fully realized then this album could be interesting for its duration, even if that number was over the 45 minute mark.
Nevertheless, “Without Your Love” has some great songs on it, all things considered. “The South” is a surprisingly hard-hitting track that seems to sample or at least be influenced by some of Lex Luger’s production on Waka Flocka Flame’s excellent “Flockavelli” album. The aptly titled song is full of trap-influenced skittering high hats, heavy bass, and deep synths, while still retaining the traditional witch house mood.
Another of Dexter’s strong suits is blending pop melodies into his witch house instrumentals, which he does excellently on tracks like “Without Your Love” and “Misunderstood.”
Overall, oOoOO’s debut is fairly decent, and should re-spark interest in this witch house movement. It’s dark, eerie, and embodies the spirit of the drag sound, much like Burial did with UK garage on his two albums. Sure, there were a few songs that had the potential to be longer, more interesting songs, like “5;51 AM,” the shortest one on the album. And there’s a song or two that could have been removed from the album altogether so the other tracks could be improved and taken care of, but ultimately this is not a bad album.
SCORE – 7.2
FAVORITE TRACKS – The South, Mouchette, Stay Here, Across A Sea, Misunderstood