What Magic Is This? by The Witching Tale

Release date: October 6, 2023
Label: Bellissima Records

Katharine Blake has proven herself to be going beyond the mediaeval atmosphere when she and Michael J. York unleashed The Witching Tale’s sole self-titled debut back in 2021. It’s been nearly three years after the duo unleashed it to the world. Yes, it was different, yes it can take a while, but Blake and York have returned to the forefront once more following it up with their latest album, What Magic Is This?

The new album takes a back-seat into the world of new age, post-folk territories, De Wolfe Music, and the world of the krautrock scene as they light it up with striking a match to lit the world into unknown universes that awaits us. And to be allowed to have Charlie Cawood (Knifeworld, Chrome Hoof), Catherine Gerbrands on musical saw, and Blake’s partners in crime; Sarah Kayte Foster and Rosa Marsh, it’ll be the perfect choice to get campers hypnotised by The Witching Tale’s music once more.

Blake’s lyrical structures have walked into this surreal art form by painting it on a canvas as each of the images come to life. Take for example, the chanting cry to the gods on ‘Indigo’ pays tribute to Philip Glass’ ‘Geometry of Circles’ which was shown on Sesame Street in 1979. Blake, Foster, and Marsh have an appreciation for Glass’ arrangements when it comes to crystallised beauty and the ride that it takes us.

Speaking of Glass, when I think of ‘Within Her Flame’ I think of Harmonia serving psychedelic tea to Ash Ra Tempel’s Manuel Gottsching, Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh, and Franco Battiato during his early days on the Bla Bla label when he was recording his 1972 debut Fetus. York pushes Blake into the synthesised world of the sweetest song heading towards your front door, waiting to be opened.

There’s a nightmarish Frippertronic device that comes front and centre as York makes his electric guitar scream like a howling madman before the Bæbes return to form on ‘Floralia’. You can tell that Blake, Foster, and Marsh have returned to the campfire with enough material to bring the heavy snow as it falls onto dry land and making it the perfect Christmas for its fellow guests.

And now, we walk into the Faerie Symphony-era on Tom Newman’s world where York channels the mastermind who was behind the grandiose of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells. But York gives Cawood carte blanche a lot of ideas on where York wants him to go for the ‘MerriCall’ to occur and then segueing into Terry Riley’s Curved Air concerto on ‘Everlasting.’

Boy, when Blake and York have done their homework on the source material they know and love, you know they have done right, tipping their hats to the masters who have influenced them. The electronic world has been very kind to The Witching Tale’s roots and leading it to the vision on What Magic Is This? And the delicious pudding that they made us, is a special treat with a hallucinated gem, waiting for seconds to devour.

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