Through WITXES, Maxime Vavasseur (b. 1985, France) crashes popular music into singular music since 2010. Based in the Rhône-Alpes region (France), his project finds its way in the balance between improvisation, sound research and composition. Focus is laid on creating abstract yet often tonal pieces, blurring lines between acoustic and electronic sources, playing with various definitions of sound and inviting other artists to join the recording process. Witxes live performances usually offer a much more physical and hypnotic take on the studio works by building walls of sound then focusing on the cracks and interstices.
Since its inception, the project has released two albums, Sorcery/Geography (2012) and A Fabric of Beliefs (2013) - both mastered by australian sound artist Lawrence English - as well as a couple EPs. At the end of 2014, a new electronic 20-min piece (Pisces Analogue) was released on a split with Dale Cooper Quartet & the Dictaphones. Orients, the third full-length record by Witxes was released in June 2018 by Consouling Sounds. In 2019, Indianapolis-based label Past Inside the Present released Morvan, the first recording of Vavasseur's collaboration with french artist Pierre-Georges Desenfant (aka Blackthread) as PGD/MV.
In 2020, Witxes will celebrate 10 years of existence with some special output and a couple of commissioned for dance pieces.
Witxes has performed on european stages with the likes of Tim Hecker, The Haxan Cloak, Bj Nilsen, Chelsea Wolfe, Barn Owl, Julianna Barwick, Bohren & der Club of Gore, Duane Pitre, Christina Vantzou, Stephen O'Malley, Forest Swords, Shackleton, Colin Potter (NurseWithWound), AUN, Psychic TV, Emptyset, Julia Kent, Lubomyr Melnyk, Noveller, Aki Onda, Blanck Mass, Anna von Hausswolff, thisquietarmy, Alberto Boccardi, Puzzle Muteson, John Chantler, Fawkes, Saffronkeira, etc.
Maxime Vavasseur also wrote pieces and installations that were commissioned by the Contemporary Music Biennale in Lyon, Sonar Collective, Mikrokosm for Extra Nuits Sonores Festival, etc. and has ties with the architecture, theater and dance worlds both as an artist and as swiss army knife.
A few quotes :
"Between organic layers and electronic tightness, WITXES' music is an emotional tsunami not far from the most beautiful moments by the leaders of the genre (Tim Hecker, Pan Sonic, Fennesz) playing with a fire inherited from a rich culture of electronics (sometimes noise, sometimes minimal techno or ambient)"
"WITXES' music is heavy on atmosphere, taking in electronic, soundscape and indeed ambient elements : 'I never decided to make ambient music and, to be honest, I think this tag would disappoint many people upon listening to my music' "
"Sa mixture electronica, shoegaze, noise et ambient se fait peu à peu une petite place dans le cœur des plus exigeants d'entre vous depuis quelques années [...]. Véritable loner de la musique expé pas chiante, Maxime Vavasseur navigue sur le styx de l'ambient drone sans se soucier de ce qu'on pense de lui et il a bien raison."
"[...] it was the hazy sounds of Witxes that greeted my arrival at Village Underground [...]. Pulsating static merged with devastating peaks of noise were present particularly during the middle of the set, which saw Maxime Vavasseur unleash some of the most uncompromising of visceral sonic avalanches."
Echoes and Dust
"WITXES est un voyage dans les limbes glacées avec des textures riches, des mélodies précieuses, un esprit aventureux."
Le Lieu Unique
About Orients (2018)
"His most wide-screen slabs of electronics to date".
"Intensément synthétiques, tirant un fil d'ariane entre Badalamenti et Fennesz, ces huit plages sonnent comme un chaos contemplatif"
"Il emboîte le pas de nombreux artistes : Kevin Shields, à Phil Spector, en passant par Tim Hecker bien sûr, mais aussi Rafael Anton Irisarri. pour la veine plus électronique. [...] Une oeuvre de l'instant, résolument physique et vivante, un polaroid d'une période trouble et angoissante."
"What sort of music features on Orients? I have avoided overtly addressing this question as it is tough to easily describe, and as already mentioned, the effect it has regardless is profound".
Angry Metal Guy
"Le disciple de Tim Hecker et de Ben Frost signe avec Orients son album le plus personnel et aussi le plus abouti à ce jour".
L'Ombre sur la Mesure
Evening of Light
"An overwhelming blast of light. An uneasy blend of the melancholy and triumphant, this is perfect music for looking out of the window at 35,000 feet, breath fogging the window pane".
"Lost in a hallucinated sequence of disturbing landscapes, in search of an irremediably lost essence."
About Pisces Analogue (2014) [from the Dale Cooper Quartet/Witxes split]
"Witxes best work to date"
"Uneasy listening at its best"
"Witxes bring something surprisingly accessible to ambient and drone music something with thundering climaxes underwritten by danceable beats and erupting, post-rock surges"
4ZZZ FM Brisbane
"Witnessing this holy orgy of painful drones and ground shattering pulses, I sincerely wonder what more could you possibly ask for"
Culture is not your friend
About A Fabric of Beliefs (2013)
"I wrote that his previous album was magnificent – this is better. Time to put the superlatives to one side – you need this record"
A Closer Listen
"A Fabric of Beliefs exhibits the confidence of uncovered purpose, channelling Maxime Vavasseur's mournful dystopian atmosphere into everything from raucous shoegaze to hand-clapped rituals, while retaining the debut's backdrop of gushing, melted-down electronics"
"Ce n'est pas un album qu'on picore, c'est une religion qu'on épouse dans sa globalité "
"Verstörend und schön zugleich / Disturbing and beautiful at the same time"
"In the final analysis, that A Fabric of Beliefs resists easy classification isn't necessarily a weakness, as its off-kilter quality keeps the listener on edge and thus captivated"
"Witxes continue d'explorer les textures, réussissant encore une à fois à marier instruments acoustiques et sonorités abstraites pour un rendu fascinant."
"A Fabric of Beliefs is a record that I hope to fully understand one day. What I have absorbed is nothing short of revolutionary in the context of how music is constructed and what genre types fit well in the presence of one another."
Sound Colour Vibration
"Douze segments dévots qui s'incarnent également sous la forme d'une seule plage démente, minutieuse, témoignant combien la passion est de retour au cœur de la musique"
Fred Foreau (of Electric Skies/Revue Mouvement)
"If it all seems perfectly in place here, then that's because defying predictability and confounding expectations is the only definition of ambient A Fabric of Beliefs would ever subscribe to"
"“A Fabric Of Beliefs” invites a thought-provoking interaction between listener and artist, one that involves not only the musical aspect of the release but also its ideological and inspirational basis."
About Sorcery/Geography (2012)
"Sorcery/Geography is a powerful record, subtle, bleak and magnificent."
A Closer Listen
"A monumentally emotional album, sad and haunting at the same time."
"Sorcery / Geography n’est pas juste un manifeste à un instant T, il est l’expression d’un cheminement musical, donc humain, dans tout ce qu’il peut avoir de plus passionnant."
"It is cohesive yet varied, one of the hardest achievements to unravel, especially so in Drone-based Ambient music. A superb debut."
About 26-min piece Winter Light Burns (2012)
"Witxes summons us to a spooky bloody sabbath with a cauldron filled with the bleaker aspects of his past tunes: squealing and squeaking parts eventually let notes of a ghost piano haunt our ears with mesmerizing effects that end up in a aerial epiphany : out of the nerve-racking darkness, winter light radiates and burns our delicate eyes, but the pain is exquisite."
Arnaud Lemoine (of Noise Magazine)
About early works compilation Scrawls #01 (2010)
"An ambience dominates much of Scrawls #01 but this reverie is at times overtaken by a powerful noise which envelopes all else audible. The contemplative melodies which follow this buffeting distortion are all the more beautiful for the preceding chaos. This familiar quiet/loud dynamic has been used by artists ad infinitum, but Vavasseur breathes life into the technique."