Zenana

Witches

Rush Hour
17.95 €
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Rush Hour’s RSS series excels in unearthing buried treasure, offering a second chance for artists and releases that have long been overlooked. That’s certainly the case with ‘Witches’, the superb sole single by British 1980s wave trio Zenana. Originally released on seven-inch by the tiny PRM label in 1986, ‘Witches’ was the product of a sister-brother song writing team whose music was mostly recorded in the front room of a terraced house in Nanpean, a small industrial village in Cornwall, England’s most south-westerly county. While the single was infectious and dancefloor-ready, it sold in limited quantities at the time. Zenana’s story can be traced back to the early 1980s, when singer-songwriter Anita Tedder founded the all-female trio as a vehicle for her socially conscious and politically charged songs, with a burning desire to put strong depictions of women front and centre. To bring Zenana to life, she joined forces with her brother Mike, an early adopter of electronic music who had built a small studio in his Cornish home, and recruited two fellow bandmembers, Penny Griffiths and Ruth Elder. Zenana’s first demo cassette and distinctive presentation – their unique clothes and look were created by bandmember Penny – secured them a management contract, a slew of live bookings, a video shoot and even a television appearance. Buoyed by this underground success, they headed to the remote Sawmills Studio in Cornwall – famously only accessible by boat – to re-record their most popular number, ‘Witches’, a song about female agency inspired by Shakespeare’s Macbeth. While this version of ‘Witches’ failed to make an impact at the time, it has become something of a cult classic following its rediscovery by crate digger Kiernan Abbott – and subsequent championing by DJs including Antal, Skyrager, Trevor Jackson and Luke Una – in early 2023. The buzz inspired Anita, Penny and Ruth to perform live again for the first time in decades, with the story of their surprise comeback being covered by British media outlets including the BBC, ITV, The Times and (more surprisingly) the Daily Mail. Now presented in re-mastered form, ‘Witches’ is a genuinely slept-on gem. Propelled forwards by punchy drum machine beats, a killer synth bassline and fizzing keyboard sounds, the song benefits greatly from strong vocals and an extra-percussive middle eight layered with vocalisations, cosmic spoken word sections and swirling noises. It comes backed by a brand-new extended ‘spell of love’ remix courtesy of Bristol duo Bedmo Disco, AKA music journalist Matt Anniss (author of Join The Future: Bleep Techno and the Birth of British Bass Music) and DJ/production partner Gareth Morgan. Anniss, a long-time friend of Mike and Anita Tedder, has fond memories of visiting Mike’s home studio with his family around the time that ‘Witches’ was originally recorded. Working from Zenana’s original MFR eight-track recording (tapes of the single version were lost years ago), Anniss and Morgan have turned in the extended ‘dance mix’ the track never had first time around. More atmospheric, moody and dancefloor-focused, it offers authentic nods to New York proto-house, mid-80s Shep Pettibone dubs, and the pioneering synth-pop productions and dub mixes of Factory Records regular Martin Rushent.

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Details

Genre

Disco

Release Date

03.07.2024

Cat No

RH RSS 37

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