A Rastaman shuffle and Kerouac`s beat poetry. Dem goof ball pomes. Memory frozen as if in photograph, acoustic guitars, and a fuck-off breakbeat. The tribal Dub of The Psychik Warriors Ov Gaia`s “Exit 23”. ON-U`s Headcharge. Tim Simenon`s Bomb The Bass & Jaki Leibzeit`s Club Off Chaos. Steve Jesse Bernstein`s “Prison”. J. Saul Kane`s Depth Charge. Massive Attack`s economy and dread knowledge. A Bogle rhythm and the Kwanzaa Posse. Language, and viruses. Compass Point via NYC. White lilies in a big apple stretching.
“Witch” might sound like Laurie Anderson trading experience with Grace Jones in a New York deli, while Basquiat and Burroughs scheme in the background, but I`m pretty sure it was recorded in London, as “the band” consists of what was left of Adam`s Ants (Matthew Ashman, Kevin Mooney), Culture Club`s backing (Helen Terry), Renegade Soundwave (Karl Bonnie) and John Reynolds & Jah Wobble fresh from Sinead O`Connor`s “I Do Not Want What I Haven`t Got”. Winer was, however, famously an associate of Jean-Michel and William. If you check on Wiki, her NY credentials are further bolstered by the fact that she acts as the executer for the estate of Herbert Huncke, the Times Square hustler, who, along with Neal Cassady, is credited with giving “The Beats” their act.
“Five” has wicked game western guitar chase lonesome through the Nevada desert, as Winer name-checks John Wayne`s ill-fated “The Conqueror” (Wayne as Genghis Khan (!?) filmed downwind of US nuclear testing; of the 220 cast & crew, 91 developed cancer, 43 cases, including Wayne, his co-stars and director, proved terminal. It is said to have haunted producer Howard Hughes (an anecdote qualified by his attempts to use his money and influence to halt further testing)), gulf war and Biblical prophecy. Tuareg and Wobble`s Bass-lines. A shout to join Sinead`s against Babylon. “For What It`s Worth” looped for a coda. I bought two copies of this re-issue, one for a friend, and on both “Five” is scratched, leading me to believe that the track is cursed.
I remember reading a short interview with Leslie in either I-D or The Face (most likely I-D) at the time of the initial release of “Witch”. I was intrigued, mainly because Wobble was involved, but at that point the album was only available to mere mortals as a CD (the internet now reveals that there were a few hand-stamped test pressings knocking about) and I didn`t buy CDs (I still don`t really, since I spend pretty much all my free time and money looking for music on vinyl, if I extend to other formats I will be sunk). I`m pretty sure that Winer stated that she planned to de-mystify the mixing desk, as it had become a male-dominated, macho world, and she was the “witch” who would redress the balance. That the production here compares to Adrian Sherwood confirms her success.
A Duanne Eddy riff over a Techno beat. Samples from Bruce Springsteen`s “State Trooper”. A Country ballad adrift in an asteroid belt, where, as Dub worlds collide, word play and random observation serve like Burroughs` cut-ups, to reveal alternate meaning. Bobby Konders` ambience. Clouds like dirty cotton. The Neville Brothers` healing chant versioned at King Tubby`s. A true soundclash. An album for dangerous ragamuffin sons of guns and glamourous hooligans.