There's always been a raw undercurrent to Natasha Khan's best work -- particularly her first album as Bat for Lashes, Fur and Gold -- and she makes the most of it on Sexwitch, the self-titled debut album from her collaboration with producer Dan Carey and the psych-rock band TOY. Previously, Khan worked with Carey and TOY on a cover of "The Bride," a pre-revolution Iranian folk song that Carey released as a single on his Speedy Wunderground imprint, and a similar sense of liberation pulses through these reworkings of songs from Morocco, Iran, Thailand, and the United States. While the project's name might seem jokey at first, it fits the band's passionate exploration of a uniquely feminine kind of mystical sexuality. Khan's singing has never sounded so unfettered: on the Iranian song "Ghoroobaa Ghashangan," her moans and wails approach the intensity of Diamanda Galás. "Ha Howa Ha Howa" -- which was originally performed by Moroccan singer Cheikha Hadda Ouakki while she was still a teenager -- is a standout, with the circling refrain "He addicted me/And I addicted him" sounding equally spontaneous and hypnotic. TOY are just as game as Khan as they blur the boundaries between psychedelic, Middle Eastern, and Asian music on dark, undulating grooves such as "Helelyos." Sexwitch go beyond the interconnectedness of love and lust to explore the circle of life and death on the album's most intense track, "Kassidat El Hakka," where Khan cries "Life has no time for me/I am fleeing but I do not know what from" in a forceful reminder that while this music is often trance-inducing, it's never passive. Even the gentler tracks, such as the delicately seductive "Lam Plearn Kew Bao" from Thailand and the version of "War in Peace" from Skip Spence's psych-folk classic Oar, are in constant motion, which is all the more impressive considering that these songs were all recorded in one take. It's this momentum that makes Sexwitch such a transcendent album, and some of the most exciting music any of these artists have made.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares