Hamsas XIII is a gothic/darkwave/dream pop duo from Columbus, Ohio. Rich Witherspoon (bass, drums, guitar) was in a Columbus band called The Wake while Robyn Bright (vocals, bass, drums, guitar) was in an Edmonton post-shoegaze band called Cockatoo. The two started working together about two years ago, and they’re set to release their debut album Encompass on April 22 via Blaylox Records.
I had never heard of the band or the label until I got something in the mailbag yesterday. There’s usually a very large pile of email on Fridays, and yesterday was no different. If I’m totally honest about this, certain tag words or phrases cause a lot of emails to lose my interest before I even get a chance to listen to their song or watch their video. Yesterday was the first time in three years that a submission actually made me angry. That’s another story, though. This obviously wasn’t that. This email had lots of tag words that pique my interest very much. With very high hopes, I was pointed to a video that I only needed to watch about three seconds of. I was not disappointed.
There’s a ton of early 1980s goth/new wave/dark wave feel to the album and especially the song. Other reviewers have thrown around reference points like Siouxie and the Banshees, early Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil, and early Modern English. When I watched the first few seconds of the video and listened to a tiny bit of tonight’s song, I instantly thought of the first side of the Cocteaus’ 1982 album Garlands. It’s a little “Blood Bitch”, and a lot “Wax and Wane”.
Anyway, here’s the video for that song:
“Exploding Heart” by Hamsas XIII
It’s that über-gothy bass line that makes me think so much of Garlands. It’s sexy and dark and a little warm. The drum machine, Bright’s vocals, and the delay/reverb/doubling on them all combine to make this sound exactly like something that would have been released on 4AD in 1983, and would have had Vaughan Oliver’s magnificent artwork on the cover.
I’ve listened to most of the album, and I really love it. I know it’s still very early in the year, but I might be able to pencil this into the top 10 of my year-end list. I realize that this sounds like a bunch of crazy talk, but this song is really magnificent and so is the rest of the album. Very much up my alley.
You can pre-order the album on iTunes now and get an instant download of tonight’s song. You won’t regret it. Also, check out the Hamsas XIII YouTube channel where you can view a few other official videos for songs from the album.