Monday, August 10, 2009

Esben and the Witch...The Band

I had heard of this band somewhere before rather recently--perhaps a reader email or on the SurLaLune Discussion board or somewhere completely random, I just don't remember. Then I forgot about them. I do that. I bombard myself with information and, yes, so much slips through the many cracks in my brain. Thus this blog, actually. I'm trying to preserve more of this information in one place and share along the way.

Last week serendipity led me to this article about the band on The Quietus website: Esben & The Witch Interview: From Aeschylus To The South Downs.

Now for those of you who are unaware, Esben and the Witch is a fairy tale from Denmark and was included in Andrew Lang's Pink Fairy Book. It is also classified as Aarne-Thompson 327B: The Small Boy Defeats the Ogre of which Hop o' My Thumb is perhaps the most famous variant. Hansel and Gretel and Jack and the Beanstalk are closely related. I knew this obscure information that will never appear on a game show, so when I saw the name of the band, I had to learn more this time, leading me to the article. Yes, you can capture my attention by naming something after an obscure fairy tale.

They explain the name choice in the article:

How did the name come about? It sounds like a fairy story about a posh girl getting caught up with a crone during a residential gymkhana. Where does the fairy tale on your MySpace come from?

It's a Danish fairytale popularised by Andrew Lang. The vivid imagery and ideas it contains have become intrinsically linked with our ethos.

Were you not worried that the fairytale implications were a little twee?

Not particularly. In our eyes Fairytales are far more melancholic and enigmatic than they first appear. We perceive tales such as this one as vehicles for interesting and sinister thoughts disguised as something palatable for children.

You can also sample their music and be immersed in their visual aesthetic on their MySpace page: Esben and the Witch. My husband--our household's music afficiando--loved their music, comparing them to Bat for Lashes, Björk and even some Jim Morrison after a few minutes. I always find comparisons difficult, but we loved the sound and think it is quite aptly self-described as "Melodramatic Popular Song / Electronica / Gothic." So if that appeals, you might enjoy it, too.

The band appears to be pretty new so downloads of their music are almost impossible to find. They have several streaming on their MySpace page and perhaps more will become available for actual downloading if word of mouth helps their fan base grow to a marketable size. So essentially this entire post is a teaser for something difficult to obtain. But come on, aren't you impressed with a UK band that names itself after a fairy tale?

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