Album Review: Witnesses - IV
Reviewed by Jon Wigg
Greg Schwan’s Witnesses deliver 2 kinds of music to the world - ambient atmospheric storytelling and atmospheric storytelling with doom metal. Some of the most haunting metal I’ve ever heard has come from this project, in particular ‘They Giveth and Taketh Away' from 2021’s ‘The Collapse’ and ‘Who Were You Before All This’ from 2020’s ‘Doom II’.
‘IV’ however sits in the ambient camp and is absolutely stunning. There are no epic, doom-laden riffs that appear in ‘The Collapse’ or ‘Doom II’. This is more like the soundtrack to a snow-filled Scandi-Noir crime series that allows the listener to fill in the story as they go along.
Over 47 minutes of music, atmosphere and imagery, the listener is taken from setup in ‘The First Snow’ and ‘The River’, character introduction in ‘The Hostage’ and ‘The Search’ right through to the closure of the story in ‘The Truth is Only the Justice Which We Create’ and ‘Farewell’. And that is just my interpretation. The song titles suggest the creator’s version but every listener could find something different in this collection.
For me, this is the soundtrack to David Lynch’s as yet unfilmed epic Alaskan crime movie that I wish he would make. As I’ve inhaled this album over the last few days, the imagery in my head has swirled and created story after story and has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience. And that’s what Witnesses ambient albums are - experiences.
The soundscape here is wonderfully descriptive - ‘The River’ really does invoke images of a slow winding river as it moves towards some rapids and beyond. Tracks about falling snow do make you feel like you are staring out of a window watching the world engulfed in a layer of frozen white. The sense of oppression, danger and tension I felt were all real to me and highlight how important music and sound are to movies and TV shows.
This isn’t the wonderful metal experience delivered by Witnesses on ‘The Collapse’ or ‘Doom II’ but if you like soundtracks or atmospheric music, then I urge you to check out ‘IV’.