BELL WITCH with OTAY:ONII & The Keening
( Doors: 8:00 pm ) SHOW: 9:00 pm PST
Nothing’s bigger than life. All vastnesses—expanding space, infinite time—crouch inside of consciousness. On a historical scale, to say nothing of a cosmic one, the individual human life vanishes, and yet it’s the only aperture any of us get into reality. It’s barely there, and it’s all there is.
That’s the paradox Bell Witch drives at. For more than a decade, the Pacific Northwestern doom metal band has sent tides surging over the seawalls of the song form, unraveling conventional expectations about the ways music stations itself in time to absorb a listener’s attention. Rather than seek catharsis, the duo’s songs heave themselves through time at a glacial pace, staving off resolution in favor of a trancelike capsule eternity. Invoking both boundlessness and claustrophobia in the same charged gesture, Bell Witch cultivates a sense of time outside of time, an oasis inside an increasingly frenetic media culture.
For their new album, The Clandestine Gate, bassist Dylan Desmond and drummer Jesse Shreibman exploded Bell Witch’s bounds. Like 2017’s lauded Mirror Reaper, The Clandestine Gate is a single 83-minute track—a composition that pulses and breathes on a filmic timeframe. It constitutes the first chapter in a planned triptych of longform albums, collectively called Future’s Shadow. “Eventually, the end of the last album will be looped around to the first to make a circle,” says Desmond. “It can be continuously looped, like a day cycle. This would be dawn. The next one would be noon. The following one would be sundown, with dawn and sundown both having something of night.”
Bell Witch began tracing the sequences that would form Future’s Shadow in live performance while on tour with Neurosis and Mono. At first, Shreibman and Desmond planned to release each chapter in the sequence as they completed it, touring each album in between. Then, in early 2020, pandemic restrictions forced them to step back from that timeline. Locked out of their rehearsal space, they worked on what would become The Clandestine Gate at a slower burn than any of their previous projects. The album germinated over the course of more than two years, a pace that allowed their music to evolve organically to a state of more focused, grounded minimalism.