When In Autumn: Black Witch Sounds (An Album Playlist)

Fall is well underway, so my imagination is full of dust, candles, tinctures, and parallel universes. I’m leaning toward albums that channel black witch aesthetics, black witch sounds. I can play all thirteen of the albums below without wanting to skip a song.

This is a photo of a musician, Spellling. She has brown skin and a slight build. Her hair is dark, and pulled back. She holds her hand to the side of her mouth, with her palm facing the camera. Her reflection is warped by the mirror on the right side of the image.
Photo of Spellling, captured by Catalina Xavlena | from Fact Mag

Come To My Garden, Minnie Riperton (1970)

This album’s first song, “Les Fleurs,” holds the e/motion of a long, munchkin-filled journey, and the remaining songs don’t let up. Whistle-pitch arias and playful orchestral romps immerse you in a wonderful garden. 

Beverly Glenn-Copeland (self-titled) (1970)

In this album, looking into a loved one’s eyes is a form of stellar travel — travel into a folksy, countrified dimension where you ache and yearn, and lose, and find yourself.

Giver Taker, Anjimile (2020)

This album, while not directly influenced by Glenn-Copeland’s work, is certainly in conversation with it. It’s an electric revival and extension of Copeland’s music, equal parts fear and tenderness. Listening to it feels like being a fly on the wall of a maze of relationships.

Ocotea, Jyoti & Georgia Anne Muldrow (2010)

Point of view: A spell you cast takes you to a decidedly attractive echo chamber possessed by the restless spirit of Alice Coltrane. You open your mouth to speak, but there are no words in this dimension — all of the languages are instrumental jazz. You improvise on the nearest instrument, and you’re understood by those who need to understand.

Songwrights Apothecary Lab, Esperanza Spalding (2021)

Point of view: An adjacent album with transparent walls appears; you enter it. There are words and vocals now, but the voices and instruments are so commensurate they seem to belong to each other. You’re tempted to join. You play your throat like a flute. You belong now too.

12 Little Spells, Esperanza Spalding (2019)

With belonging comes initiation. All the feeling and morphing you’ve done thus far has brought you to this covenant. This full inhabitance of your body, your history. You travel the length and breadth of yourself, and there is so much there. You’ve arrived.

Black Moon (EP), Yazmin Lacey (2017)

Here, the after-land greets you — foreboding and inviting. There’s a party of sorts that people are still spilling into. It might be what you’ve been waiting for.

Sink (EP), Sudan Archives (2018)

The sun has set. You’re floating in a pool, and the bass of the sound system pulses the water. You’re dreaming with an awareness of your surroundings, opening your eyes from time to time to spy on people.

Safe In The Hands of Love, Yves Tumor (2018)

You’ve found a new friend — you’re both vibing on a couch. Their presence is as majestic as a marching band on a rainy football field. Over time, their power scares you, so raw — but they’re lovely, and sincere. This friend, they never diminish you. You feel your own power rise when you’re with them. 

Childqueen, Kadhja Bonet (2018)

You and a line of people are heading somewhere that will restore you. You pass Minnie Riperton’s Garden on the way there. At your destination, you embrace your dance partner, and your group starts waltzing around.

Mazy Fly, Spellling (2019)

You get into some trouble in the wicked part of town, calling upon the moon for assistance. A sinister soundtrack follows and emboldens you. You are, perhaps, seductive. A bit of a siren. You’re tough, no doubt. 

The Turning Wheel, Spellling (2021)

It seems you’ve stumbled into the woods again, following a deer into its dark depths. You’re open to whatever presents itself to you, trusting that it won’t be so bad.

333, Tinashe (2021)

As you sit in a stone enclosure, a sweet thought occurs to you: You’re already “saved.” Even when the people who affirm you are far away, or still on their way. Here, alone, you aren’t stranded. 


*These albums are currently available on Spotify


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