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Esben and the Witch currently have a PledgeMusic page running - 65% funded, at the time of writing - with the intention of raising enough money to be able to make their third full-length record in Chicago, with Steve Albini. Perhaps they feel that they need to provide some hard evidence of their DIY ethic to the legendary producer before they work with him; the split LP is a real relic of a bygone punk era, virtually unheard of nowadays at anything past grass roots level. Anybody can put out a split single - sticking a couple of tracks on a seven-inch doesn't really require a great deal of consideration - but bringing a common coherence to two sides of a different coin, as is required on an LP like this one, is a different matter entirely.

Thought Forms prove a pretty neat fit for the album's flip side; the Bristolians peddle an altogether more straightforward brand of rock, one that provides a neat foil for their opposite numbers. They take their cues from a familiar lineup of bands - the sort that make up a veritable who's who of American alternative through the eighties and nineties - although that's not to say that they aren't capable of throwing you a curveball; opener 'Your Bones' merely implies menace to begin with - walls of simmering guitars and an icy, detached turn from vocalist Charlie Romijn - before erupting, around the three-minute mark, into a maelstrom of unchecked reverb.

'Sound of Violence' is pure Sonic Youth - unsteady guitar lines that are much higher in the mix than the boy-girl vocals, no discernible verse-chorus structure - whilst the breakneck 'For the Moving Stars' zips along, a pacy paean to My Bloody Valentine from a trio clearly in thrall to the Irish noiseniks. It's all perfectly accomplished, but a little samey; last year's Ghost Mountain suffered from being a touch too one-track, and you suspect that energy alone might not be sufficient for the band to truly turn heads, given how derivative their sound is.

'Silver Kiss' does go some way to warding off accusations of charlatanism by tapping into the some of the genuine atmosphere that Esben and the Witch bring to the record's reverse, but as nicely as it serves as a lead-off into the Brighton outfit's side, it's ultimately shown up by what follows. There's just the two Esben tracks here - granted, one of them's not far shy of ten minutes in length - but they've certainly made them count; 'No Dog' provides a furious kickoff, with the rhythm section locked against each other in what sounds like a race for their lives. When everything bar a single guitar drops out at the ninety-second mark, it feels like respite - at least until Rachel Davies' vocal, loaded with foreboding, is ushered in. She provides fantastic drama at the song's climax, too, delivering something not too far removed from a war cry and anchoring an instrumental landscape that never sounds far away from disarray in the process.

'Butoh', meanwhile, leaves you hoping that the band are offering, as standard, a promise to Album Three pledgers that Albini won't try to temper their appetite for experimentation; on this evidence, it'd be nothing short of a travesty. The track has them striving to cover every possible base over the course of nine and a half minutes; violent instrumental interludes live harmoniously alongside the brand of sinister slow-burn ambience that they've been making their own since 2011's Violet Cries, and an unlikely marriage of scorching, reverb-heavy guitars and positively feral drumming comes off to impressive effect late on. It's a nicely-balanced LP - and a well-executed idea - but with Esben and the Witch maintaining their reputation for thrilling unpredictability, it's hard not to see their contribution as the steak to Thought Forms' starter.

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