Re:Mission Entertainment 2021
Ritualz is a dark electronic music project started in 2010 by JC Lobo and is based in Mexico City. Ritualz’s debut EP was one of the defining releases of the rather obscure Witch House genre, that started in the late 2000s and never really made it into the alternative “mainstream”, especially not in Continental Europe – whereas in the US and the UK it’s still reasonably popular. Nevertheless, both the genre itself and its multiple influences have made their way into experimental electronics and different types of noise music all over the globe.
Quite a good definition of Witch House is “Goth like you never thought it could sound”. That means, it rather differs from the usual dark electronic patterns, though many elements of harsh electro or (dark) ambient are present; it also has nothing to do with the vibes we usually perceive in more traditional Goth music (rooted mainly in the 80s), but it’s dark and bleak as hell all the same.
This EP, “†‡†”, typically titled with some obscure Unicode symbols – the Ritualz logo – and originally named “self-titled”, or “CDR”, has been re-released on vinyl for it’s 10th anniversary by the American label Re:Mission Entertainment. It contains everything that made the genre popular among underground music fans, from the screwed-and-chopped beats to the heavy, intense synths. Beautiful sounds combine with abrasive, mostly slowed-down beats, and together are capable of creating an atmosphere that is haunting, seductive and profoundly disturbing at the same time.
The over-the-top soundscapes, stacking synth layer upon synth layer, are most prominent in songs like “Psychic Teens” and “San Marino (feat. Unison)” , whereas in “gOth bb RITUAL VERSION” a relentless drumbeat comes to the forefront, while the synths help create a wild and desolate vibe and quite a bit of noise. On the other hand, there are also sounds that lean heavily into the ambient side of things, like in “Initiation”, giving the EP quite a bit of variety.
The remastered re-release has a much better, namely a clearer sound, that makes it possible to appreciate the complexity of the multiple synth sounds. So it’s a clear recommendation for all fans of Ritualz and Witch House – and even listeners who are new to the genre might find it appealing, making it a good introduction into the genre.