Comparisons are inevitable between serpentwithfeet and modern avant-garde icons such as Björk and Arca, knowing that the project's production is in the hands of The Haxan Cloak, who famously collaborated with the Icelandic princess on ‘Vulnicura’. The similarities are obvious, but where Björk and her colleagues dwell in a spider web of cryptic drama, Josiah Wise stands perfectly open and clear with a poetical voice of his own creation.
Following the critically acclaimed 2016 ‘blisters’ EP, serpentwithfeet’s first full-length sends out a message of love and appreciation, speaking directly to its listener from an intimate, inviting position. From the very first lines, Wise aims for a close contact with his audience, offering shelter and understanding in a turbulent world. The experimental nature of Haxan Cloak’s vision remarkably blends with classical training of Josiah, creating mesmerising labyrinths of beautifully written and produced sounds, accompanied by multiple layers of part-opera part-religious choirs upon which Wise delivers his sermon.
The album culminates in ‘cherubim', a genuine banger among the soft transparency of other tracks. This must be one of the most shameless and explicit (in a good way) declarations of one’s own sexuality, as Wise proclaims his queerness through this insanely catchy and amusing tune, celebrating the ability to share everything he has with his loved one. He treats love as a great ritual of universal joy, and, together with hints of occult practices traceable in serpentwithfeet's persona, this brings him extremely close to being this generation’s Genesis P-Orridge, whose post-Throbbing Gristle works concentrate on the very same themes.
‘soil’ fades tenderly with 'bless your heart', a touching look back on the album, in which its author wonders if his words will have an impact on those who heard them and, through them, on the rest of the world. They certainly will, as an artistic effort of such talent and beauty just cannot disappear in the surrounding noise. Sharing his wisdom, serpentwithfeet teaches us to be ourselves, to endure and be happy and love each other, and it’s rare to hear these simple, well-known things being delivered with a power and strength that can transcend the medium of music itself, turning it into a pure magic.
Words: Dmitry Teckel
- - -
- - -
Join us on Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.