For our regular Future Is Now column we profile the hottest artists who are climbing the charts, breaking the Internet or just dominating our office stereos.
SOUNDS LIKE: Playing music in heritage buildings where dark memories lurk in the walls.
FOR FANS OF: Arcade Fire, Patti Smith, PJ Harvey.
WHY YOU SHOULD PAY ATTENTION: Carved into a cliff on the coast of Calabria is a cinema that creaks with age. Rendered in the 1930s, it's seemingly suspended in air by the sweeping Mediterranean landscape, and there's a straight drop from the veranda to the ocean. Pumarosa's debut album, The Witch, is impressed with elements of that space, a pivotal point in the creation of the record. Self-described as "industrial spiritual", the five-piece took their music from a small, "mashed up" studio in East London to a residency in the south of Italy, where their neo-rock-meets-instrumental sound was brushed with a haunting, old-world feel. Frontwoman Isabel Muñoz-Newsome and drummer Nick Owen noticed that shift.
"We took stuff we'd already written in our little room, and it didn't sound right," Owen says. "It was a huge space, acoustically treated, and more expansive. It was clearer and less compressed – it gave the sound a chance to go out."
Lessons from the cinema are heard in the album. In "The Witch", Owen's drumming is precise but surges gently, favouring brushes over sticks; in "Dragonfly", Muñoz-Newsome's vocals echo and grate; and in "Barefoot" a synth ebbs and flows over sparse guitar picking. The lyrics, too, have shadowy corners. Muñoz-Newsome says "the witch, thematically, is kind of the centre point – I'm trying to put women in the position of a protagonist. I think that's missing from culture – books or films or songs where the woman is the instigator, it's sort of... not there." The Witch is at once raw and unfettered, but finely tuned. Its live sound thrives under quiet restraint.
THEY SAY: Muñoz-Newsome says, "Music isn't gonna cause a revolution, but you can speak in a way that isn't utterly mainstream. I'm not running around being an anarchist, although I wish I had the balls to do that. If you're an artist or a musician, that's your space. It's a different voice."
HEAR FOR YOURSELF: "Priestess" is striking in its simplicity, while "The Witch" surges through diverse terrains, musically and lyrically.