Jex Thoth’s debut album was all creaky organ and fuzz-blasted guitars, like something on the Vertigo or Dawn labels circa 1971. This was a band not made for these times: a contrarian, antiquarian enigma railing against the sterile modern sound-world.
For those eager to hear the next missive from Jex Thoth, the Witness EP has arrived. At only 15 minutes long it’s definitely a teaser, but the three songs show a pleasing attention to old-school songcraft. Some spooky organ ushers in the charging opening section of “Raven nor the Spirit” before the track opens up and slows down to make way for the stately vocal melodies. As always, the most powerful element is the voice of Jex herself, presiding over everything with sinister authority. The first track segues smoothly into “Slow Rewind,” another slow burner of a song that nevertheless features some tasty lead work before breaking into a gallop at the end. The EP closes with “Mr. Rainbow,” a cover of a Slapp Happy song. It’s an excellent choice from an obscure corner of British rock—Slapp Happy may be best known for their mid-’70s merger with “Rock in Opposition” legends Henry Cow. Its pace and melodicism make it a good fit with the two originals here.
Whether it’s an addendum to the debut or a prologue for Jex Thoth’s next testament of doom, the Witness EP is an enjoyable, intriguing release. All three tracks display craft and restraint, while keeping the established sound of the band intact. A glimpse through a stained-glass window for now; hopefully we’ll get to explore the entire cathedral soon.