As far as microgenre labeling goes, "witch house" is one of the more delightful inventions. It's both indulgent and self-consciously absurd. The notion of "witch house" as a genre has some of the appeal of lurid exploitation cinema—it knows what it's doing, and it doesn't care if it offends you. Even if you've got the brains behind acts like Pictureplane and oOoOO disavowing the term in interviews, it still feels like the right word to describe the spook-assault theatrics of bands like Salem.
Now along comes French duo Unison's debut (self-titled) album. The pair seem fine with the term being used to market the record (they're being couched as the "French answer to Salem"), and, if anything, Unison could help legitimize the idea of witch house.
The album opens up absurdly with "Blood Blood Blood!!" on which a spectral chorus of children chant "Ring Around the Rosie" before exclaiming, "Mama, help me!" It's hard not to be charmed. In attitude, Unison's debut has a lot in common with My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult's classic Confessions of a Knife, despite bearing little stylistic similarity.
Nothing on Unison could be mistaken for danceable, despite using the same vocabulary of electronic squelching as house and dance. In fact, Unison is an anti-dance record; it's a record of reverie and clairvoyance. One imagines figures poised on the brink of great chasms—not bodies in motion, but bodies frozen in a bizarre tableau.