Midwestern three-piece electro-crunk-house-gazers (I’m doing the best I can!) Salem have done a lot of weird things in their short career, weirdest – and best – probably being making music so absolutely unheard of that it warrants making up genre names like "witch house." The truth is, Salem is so everything that it’s impossible to pigeonhole them as one thing, and attempting to pigeonhole Salem into one genre, no matter the ridiculous names you try to make up, is a fruitless gesture. The tracks on debut record King Night (it follows two EPs that also sound like the music on them, Water and Yes I Smoke Crack) range from the ethereal, haunting “Frost” –- Heather Martlatt’s voice recalls Zola Jesus if she were a church choir singer, the stuttering electronic drums and crunching synths recall any number of top forty radio hits –- to the Atlanta rap meets Halloween music piping from your overenthusiastic neighbor’s house vibe of “Trapdoor.”
“Tair,” one of the highlights on “King Night,” is, of course, its own thing. It’s got that creepy hyper-slow rap from “Trapdoor,” Martlatt’s sliced-up ethereal vocals skipping octaves in the background, those Lean-With-It snaps and throbbing bass, and lyrics that (from what I can discern) recall a place of familiarity and safety: “This house is safe / ain’t got nothing to fear,” Jack Donoghue (or, at least, a massively pitch- and tempo-shifted version of him) raps. Doesn’t sound too witch house to me. “Tair” just serves to prove it – you can only understand Salem if you stop trying to understand Salem and just enjoy them for what they are: absolutely everything.
Salem - "Tair"
Salem - "Frost"
Salem - "Trapdoor"