As Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, Adam McIlwee threads together emo, trap beats, and occultism | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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As Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, Adam McIlwee threads together emo, trap beats, and occultism

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Pennsylvania singer-producer Adam McIlwee says he doesn’t like emo, but he’s anchored to the genre. For close to a decade, he fronted Tigers Jaw, one of the brightest acts in the fourth-wave emo scene, and his yearning vocals lent the band’s music a hard-to-measure bittersweet allure. McIlwee left the group in 2013, though, and pulled a creative 180 with Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, where he grafts crestfallen ballads onto trap percussion and foggy synths. Had he launched this solo endeavor ten years earlier it would’ve been called “witch house,” but as a founding member of GothBoiClique, whose ranks have included departed rap-star-in-the-making Lil Peep, his work has been relegated to the even less-defined world of “emo rap,” even though he doesn’t rap. In March he dropped Corinthiax (Dark Medicine), an EP of “occult romantic songs” that feels about as occult as it does rap or emo—which is to say the connection is loose, with McIlwee cherry-picking whatever aspects of the aforementioned elements will lend his music emotional clarity. The resulting songs, particularly “High Strangeness”—an intimate ballad built on twinkling synths, a subtle, echo-treated guitar melody, and percussion patterns that rattle like spoke cards—sparkle regardless of how you want to classify them.   v

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