Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Witchboard: It's Been Emptional



By WALLACE McBRIDE

Witchboard has been a thorn in my side for several years. With titles like "Gothic Tales of Ambient Love" and "Yes, I Drink Blood" (not to mention an album cover that features a still from Night of Dark Shadows) the concepts on display feel almost intrusive in their ability to predict my interests. It's enough to make me wonder if Glenn McQuaid, the one-man band that is Witchboard, has been reading my mail.

But, cool song titles aside, I could never connect with his music. I've found myself returning occasionally to Witchboard's Bandcamp page, curious to see if all the parts will finally align in my mind ... but always leaving disappointed. Why doesn't this stuff work? All the parts are there. No assembly is required. The fault, I've been sure, is my own.

So, after spending a month reading McQuaid's excellent album recommendations on his Instagram account throughout the month of October (I'm now addicted to the Cadabara Records catalog, thanks Glenn) it seemed like a good time to give his alien transmissions  another go. Since the last time I checked in, a feature-length, vinyl only Witchboard album had been released. Rather than continuing to dip my toes in the water with more random sampling of whatever was streaming online, I pulled the trigger and bought the latest LP, "It's Been Emotional."

The vinyl format deprived of the ability to skip around the tracks and forced me to sit still and actually listen to the goddamned music. For the first time, it all clicked. I got it. And I love it.

But the fault might not have entirely been my own. "It's Been Emotional," which falls somewhere on the spectrum between Darkwave and 80s goth revivalism, features more complex work than earlier offerings. The 80s sound (however you might define it) is in vogue right now, with acts as far reaching as Ghost, Gunship and The Cybertronic Spree pursuing that sweet blend of synthesizers, treble-y snare drums and guitar tones so popular (checks calendar) thirty years ago. (Holy shit, I'm old.) Few of the bands I mentioned are willing to stick the landing and let DayGlo color palettes on their album covers carry most of the nostalgic burden. But McQuaid does such a good job of recreating those classic electronic sounds on "It's Been Emotional" that I failed to recognize one of the tracks is from Brad Fiedel's score for Fright Night. How's that for a plot twist?

And that's not even the only vampire invoked on "It's Been Emotional." One track leads with a sample of dialogue from House of Dark Shadows, the rhythm evolving from the sound of David's ball bouncing as he chants "If I catch this one, Carolyn isn't dead." It's not an especially happy sounding song, as you might imagine ... but the overall effect left a smile on my face.

"It's Been Emotional" is limited to 300 pieces and is available from Holy Mounting Printing.

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