Stroboscopic Artefacts' newest signing presents a heartfelt and intense journey through industrial techno and supernatural noise.
The self-titled LP from Bangkok-based Miriam Alegria, AKA Wanton Witch, is a dark descent into industrial clank, dissonant drums and otherworldly nature sounds. Created as an outlet for Alegria (who is the founder of Bangkok queer collective NON NON NON) to work through her emotions, the LP is purposefully intense. "I try to bring you on an audio passage through chapters of my life, of me," she told Resident Advisor.
Theatrical, ghostly and avant-garde, Wanton Witch is a concept album that unfolds like a series of sound art installations. Tracks lure you into shadowy, narrow spaces then attack from all directions with a cacophony of noises. It's an immersive quality that stems from Alegria's desire to "create an album that's like a complete soundscape, like listening to a live set."
Most of the 11-track album features fast-paced beats and mind-melting sonics in the style of Gabber Modus Operandi or Slikback, but there are moments of structure, even respite. "Is This All We Can Do?" is a twisted take on dubby techno with static-filled intervals of suspense. "Lament Ceremony" nods to footwork and juke through stacked claps and spliced tempos, while "Nervous Burial" is a compelling package of hypnotic drone, ascending keys and spiralling synths. While aggressive compared to most other music on Stroboscopic Artefacts, these tracks offer something to hold onto. The rest of Wanton Witch features hectic arrangements, sometimes to its detriment—"Resentment," for instance, is pure sensory overload, with too much going on amid warped sirens, gabber drums and glitchy sounds.
Wanton Witch isn't easy listening, though what it lacks in linear rhythms it makes up for in an almost mystical force. Transcendental moments are interspersed among the madness. "Walking On Moirai" channels the fuzzy atmospherics of New York label and mix series Mysteries Of The Deep but at a slightly faster clip—hazy frequencies, minimal dubstep rhythms, heavy drums and classical strings envelop you in a trance. "Looping Projection Of You" is tailor made for a forest rave. The track begins on a swampy tone, full of tribal elements, snaking synth lines and warped textures, like wood exposed to high humidity. It's an eerie yet captivating version of those nature recordings that people use to fall asleep.
The album's balance between slow, esoteric melodies and high BPMs is strategic. "This dual nature reflects my life, navigating a hostile world as a queer trans woman growing up in an isolated community in Borneo, my mental health, the longterm effects of my childhood trauma and my journey of healing," Alegria said.
The honesty behind Alegria's creative process is a critical factor in understanding the album as a whole. Not only does it explain the LP's volatile nature, but knowing the intent behind it softens the music, almost makes it more approachable. Vulnerable and intimate—and impressively put together, given that this is her first-ever record—Wanton Witch is a bold expression of identity and struggle from a new artist who isn't afraid to dive into the deep end, while taking a very different route than her labelmates.