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Octavian Winters - Undertow (Stratis Capta Records)

21 August 2023

European folk tales are often dark affairs. Certainly, in the case of the Brothers Grimm, whose stories have to be massively toned down for the sensibilities of modern audiences, but also many of the fables created by Hans Christian Anderson are built on similarly tragic themes. “Undertow” is based on his story of the Little Match Girl, a bleak tale of separation and isolation that not only acts as the perfect reference point and metaphor for singer Ria Aursjoen’s commentary on the modern world but musically adds a suitable dark and raw soundtrack to the story.

Octavian Winters create a dark musical weave forged of post-punk and gothic strands, a sonic web that is a neat blend of pulsing bass grooves and shaded ethereality, dark and delicious guitar slashes, and haunting sound washes. It is a sound that, rather than impact the listener, instead wraps itself around them and encompasses them, inviting them in and captivating them with its Stygian designs.

With a previous single, “ Ondine,” already out and their debut EP, The Line or Curve a couple of months away, “Undertow” is precisely the perfect record to hold your attention until it drops. And given how beguiling and beautiful “Undertow” is and the effect it had on me just on the first listen, by the time that record comes out, Octavian Winters will have built up a whole army of new fans.

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