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wolfgang tillmans announces the return of beloved witch house trio salem

According to the German artist, the dark electronic alchemists are plotting their long overdue return after spending a year living on the Louisiana Bayou.

by Emily Manning
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Aug 3 2016, 4:20pm

In between tirelessly crusading against Brexit and mounting a solo show at London's Maureen Paley Gallery, cherished i-D contributor Wolfgang Tillmans somehow found the time to release an EP of music he's been working on for over 30 years. Titled 2016/1986, the record collects the thumping beats and basslines Tillmans has been tinkering with since he first documented the European techno scene for i-D in 1989. The EP's lead single, "Make It Up As You Go Along," is a gorgeously rhythmic house cut laced with hi-hat hits and almost Gregorian vocals. According to Tillmans, we'll soon be able to hear how cult witch house trio Salem imagines it — the band's "Make It Up As You Go Along" remix will be the first piece of music it's released in five years.

Last week, Tillmans posted a photograph of a sunset to his Instagram, accompanied by a caption announcing Salem's imminent return. "SALEM's John Holland and Jack Donoghue just sent through 'Make It Up As You Go Along (SALEM Remix)' The first piece of music they release in over five years," Tillmans wrote. As FACT points out, Holland and Donoghue are among the six producers credited on Kanye West's 2013 effort "Black Skinhead." Yet Salem itself hasn't released music since 2011's I'm Still in the Night EP, the follow up to its lone full-length 2010 album King Night. According to Tillmans, that will soon change.

"[Holland and Donoghue] did the remix in Montegut, Louisiana this month, where they lived for the last year and where I took this photograph in May when visiting them. As expected the mix is super dense, highly abstracted from the original, and has an irresistible magic and pull. John and Jack were working on a new album there, and are completing it in Los Angeles, where they live now. Salem are back. Full Louisiana pictures when album comes out. Label tbc," Tillmans wrote.

In a word: epic. Fans of Salem's chopped, screwed, and blown-out production style will remember the excellent treatment the band gave Britney Spears' apocalyptic anthem "Till the World Ends." It will be fascinating to hear how Holland and Donoghue abstract Tillmans' techno track with the glitchy, dark alchemy that made the witch house microgenre such a genuinely compelling electronic sound. More exciting, though, is the prospect of a new, full-length Salem record that has been concocted in a five-square-mile town on the Louisiana Bayou (according to US Census data, Montegut has less than 1,500 residents). 

In his Instagram caption, Tillmans added that the Salem remix will be included on his forthcoming EP, Device Control, which will be released on September 16. "More tracks and remixes tbc soon," he wrote. We cannot wait to see who else he's recruited for these remixes, and his photographs from the Louisiana coast.

Get your hands on a copy of Wolfgang's '2016/1986' vinyl here

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Text Emily Manning