The Heartwood Institute – `Witchcraft ’70′
There are witches in today’s society… intones the voice with which The Heartwood Institute’s offering “Witchcraft ’70” opens. Allow us, if you will, to show you one of the most shocking realities of the ’70s.
These words are sampled from the trailer for Witchcraft ’70, one of the dime-a-dozen “Witchsploitation” documentaries that were popular in the 1960s and 1970s (although probably more for their lurid presentation of naked flesh than factual information about the dangers of the mid-century occult scene).
That’s not to say the newest release from the “hauntronica” outfit, hailing from the Lake District, is confined to the decade of disco. The synth work accompanying the titillating narration is rooted in the ’80s. On the title track in particular, I’m reminded of the analog work by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth for Halloween III: Season of the Witch, as well as the more beat-heavy cuts from the post-industrial scene (think Bites-era Skinny Puppy).
Following “Witchcraft ’70” is “Diana,” an exploration of the relationship between the Classical moon goddess and Lucifer. Again, behind the sampled narration The Heartwood Institute builds a pulsing wall of electronic sound, this time with clicks in all the right places, sleazier beats, recorded birdsong, and a throwback synth bass. “Witchdrone” closes out the release, two minutes of what can best be summed up by its title.
The Heartwood Institute released “Witchcraft ’70” as a Hallowe’en special, but that doesn’t mean you should wait until next October to have a listen. A must for everyone who enjoys the combination of kitschy samples and seriously good electronica, its biggest negative is that there isn’t enough of it. From beginning to end, it’s about 12 minutes and just got this listener revved up when it ended. Fortunately, the Heartwood Institute has other issues in their catalogue to explore.
Reviewed by Katherine Beem (The Stone Tapes)