fiori.’s title track to the recently released Outstanding EP is better than any song tagged as “witch house” has a right to be in 2017. If that’s a microgenre you never followed closely, witch house crested on a wave of indie blogosphere hype back in 2010 with Salem’s King Night, Crystal Castles’ startlingly great second record, Balam Acab’s See Birds and Forest Swords’ confounding Dagger Paths. While all markedly different albums, they shared a common DNA of doomy atmospherics, repetitive drones and buzzes, eviscerated samples, drug-soaked vocals and darkly alluring synthesizers. The microgenre fell apart, in part, because: Salem never got its shit together to release a second LP, Balam Acab took four years to work on one EP, Forest Swords folded a lot of other stylings into his mix and Crystal Castles eventually collapsed under the weight of in-band bickering (though the band now has a new vocalist who is nowhere near as good as the OG Alice Glass). Now it really only exists in fleeting moments when you squint hard enough at Purity Ring tracks and in underground music scenes in countries such as Russia.
Which is precisely where the enigmatic fiori. hails from. Not that at all explains why “Outstanding” is as captivating it is. That has everything to do with the artist’s pronounced sense of pacing and working knowledge of when to dole out the dread. The synth swarms in this song don’t come right away. They only leave the hive after initial moments of ambient wandering that establish an uneasy if somewhat safe environment. All is well until it isn’t. Soon whatever serenity existed is drowned out by a buzzing as voluminous as 100,000 killer bees. And once they come in, there’s nowhere to run to or hide for safe keeping. It’s over. It’s done and lost. It shouldn’t be possible for 2017 witch house to deliver such fatalism but here it is.
fiori.’s Outstanding EP is out now on Bandcamp and is well worth your time (it’s less than 20 minutes long).