A persistent hissing skitters through the track, sounding like a needle scratching into the inside grooves of a forgotten record. Further along, 'The Witches' ladder' rushes past the ears like a blasting wind, carrying disembodied words that tangle and twist in the air. On 'The White Lady' these utterances grow into a litany of incorporeal weeping and shrieking, similar in style to Diamanda Galas' vocal attacks, though not as intense. 'Procession of souls' takes this supernatural pain and transforms it into a solemn requiem replete with lush strings and what sounds like processed bagpipes or accordion to add to the unearthly nature of the sorrow.
This mix of melody and abstractness - and of the electronic with the acoustic - leads to compositions that sound incredibly full, as if they were performed by an orchestra rather than by mainly one musician. 'The Witch Haven' is a stunning finale to the 'Witch' trilogy, as absolute and silencing as the reverberation of a coffin lid closing in a basilica. The only question left to ponder as the disc ends is why haven't horror and suspense film directors picked up Verhagen as a sublime choice for scoring their movies?
Michael Woodring - sonomu.net
A masterpiece of medieval orchestration, part three: The Witch Haven is the long-awaited finale to Shinjuku Thief's Witch Trilogy, a triptych of subdued Boschian elegance, preceded by the evocative, haunting sonicscapes presented on The Witch Hammer and The Witch Hunter. Maestro Darrin Verhagen incorporates a rich tapestry of sounds, including illusory atmospherics (found sounds: the wind through barren trees; incoherent whispering voices) and lots of string textures (primarily, viola and violin), aligning the symphonic music through passages that resonate with both classical and cinematic allegiances. Structure and disarray are also partners in the construction, keeping the listener constantly involved, especially over the psychotic intertwining of the elements on the final few tracks.
Stringed instruments bay and moan on the initial track, 'Waking at Dusk,' while a piano draped in trepidation leads one from the blackest of nights to the foreboding day that follows.