GIHE: Albums & EPs Of 2021

After sharing our Tracks of 2021 last week, the GIHE team want to shine a light on some of the brilliant Albums & EPs that have been released during the last 12 months. These records kept us dancing around our bedrooms/living rooms/home offices, miming underneath our face-masks and distracted us momentarily from the uncertain world we’re currently all living in.

So, in alphabetical order, here are our top Albums & EPs of 2021 (with some honorable mentions at the end…)

ALBUMS

Adult Mom – Driver
Consistently my most listened-to artist over the last couple of years, Adult Mom aka Stevie Knipe creates the most beautifully heartfelt music. Although I had thought it would be hard to follow the perfect relatable emotion of their debut Momentary Lapse Of Happily, and 2018’s Soft Spots, this year’s Driver does not disappoint. With the lilting musicality and raw emotive splendour of each track, the album has been in my ears on literally a daily basis since it came out in March; I have sought comfort in the luscious depth of Knipe’s vocals and found myself fully immersed in the album’s twinkling grace. I’m sending extra love to Stevie at the moment, as they were diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year and are currently having to undergo treatment. I can’t wait to hear more gorgeous music from them when they’re ready. (Mari Lane – Co-Founder)

Blonde Maze – Something Familiar
I’m honestly not sure how I would have got through the last two years without the sound of Blonde Maze in my ears daily. Even before her debut album Something Familiar came out in Autumn, I had been completely addicted to her utterly dreamy creations – ever since she’d been a guest on our radio show about five years ago. To have a full LP filled with her exquisite soundscapes has been just what I’ve needed recently. Bathing the ears in shimmering ripples of dreamy reflection, each luscious track is a perfect cathartic tonic. My album of the year – it’s been the beautifully calming and delicately uplifting soundtrack I’ve so needed. (ML)

Divide & Dissolve – Gas Lit
Released via Invada Records in January, instrumental activists Divide and Dissolve’s second album Gas Lit continues their sonic mission to erode the foundations of colonialism and white supremacy. Produced by Ruban Nielson of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, the record is an aural purging of injustice, fuelled by the diversity of Takiaya Reed’s doom-ridden saxophone sounds and Sylvie Nehill’s phenomenal percussion. It flows with a unique gargantuan grace that unsettles and soothes my cells every time I hear it. I had the pleasure of interviewing Takiaya about the album earlier this year too, which you can read here.
(Kate Crudgington – Co-Founder)

Du Blonde – Homecoming
With Homecoming, Du Blonde gave us the DIY stadium rock record we didn’t know we needed. After becoming disillusioned with the music industry, they wrote, recorded and produced this album of swaggering, empowering anthems for outcasts. A bag of contradictions, it’s both silly and serious, wonderfully weird yet radio friendly. A powerful record, I love the way Homecoming embraces self-destruction and self-love. It has a proper punk energy and inspires you to get shit done on your own terms – after you’ve had a dance, of course.
(Victoria Conway – Contributor)

Fears – Oíche
An intuitive artist who has transformed her darkest moments into graceful electronic soundscapes, Fears aka Constance Keane shared her poignant debut album Oíche (meaning “night” in Irish) in May. Released via her own label TULLE, the Irish-born, London-based musician balances her intense ruminations on trauma alongside delicate synth loops and tentative beats to shine a light on a personal metamorphosis. Much like the coarse fabric she used to create her altruistic dress on the album’s artwork, Fears allows her lived experiences to take up space and permeate this record, which swells with unflinching honesty and elegance. Oíche is a collection of shadowy lullabies that span five years of emotional territory, and the result is a truly immersive and enlightening body of work. (KC)

Fightmilk – Contender
Following 2018’s Not With That Attitude, this year total faves Fightmilk released their second album Contender via Reckless Yes, and it was everything I could have hoped for. With new bassist Healey and a perhaps more ambitious musicality than previous releases, this year’s album marks a maturing in sound for the band, whilst maintaining their trademark anthemic power-pop energy. Filled with the perfect balance of jangling melodies, an endearing, refreshingly honest lyricism and shades of a raw tongue-in-cheek wit, the album covers themes from space travel and capitalism, to love, heartbreak and self-loathing, all the while oozing a raw emotion and the band’s distinctive, quirky charisma. With all the scuzzy musicality and shimmering energy we’ve come to know and love, Contender showcases a band that are continuously refining their sound and, in the process, consistently continuing to win my heart.
(ML)

Gazelle Twin & NYX – Deep England
Inspired by the tracks that formed Gazelle Twin aka Elizabeth Bernholz’s 2018 album Pastoral, Deep England is a dark fable that serves as a warning to listeners not to get swept up in national apathy. Whilst Bernholz’s unique vision of Britain’s past was brought vividly to life on her original record, with the support of the NYX drone choir her vitriol is able to take its fullest, most nerve-shredding form. Together, they present their altruistic vision of Britain in its “post-truth” sphere, embroidering a new tapestry of sound for these jarring and uncertain times. Deep England is a phenomenal artistic accomplishment; a shadowy, graceful collection of sounds that radiate with unease – truly unlike anything you’ve heard before. (KC)

LINGUA IGNOTA – SINNER GET READY
“And all that I’ve learned / is everything burns” laments Lingua Ignota aka Kristin Hayter on ‘Pennsylvania Furnace’, the fourth track on SINNER GET READY – an apt sentiment for a record that blazes with a unique orchestral agony. Released via Sargent House, Hayter’s fourth full length offering is an emotional exorcism inspired by the severe brand of Christianity in rural Pennsylvania where she currently lives. Its strictness permeates her vision to the core, with her sensational vocals remaining the lifeblood of SINNER GET READY. She uses her voice to devastating effect, harrowing up the soul with her effortless ability to switch from a soft, divine cry to a cord-ripping, desperate plea. A stunning record that I’ve returned to many times this year. (KC)

Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is an outstanding album, ambitious and sprawling while maintaining the punchy immediacy of expression synonymous with Little Simz’ earlier work. She confidently glides between styles, from epic Scott Walker-style arrangements to afrobeat grooves, which form mere backdrops to the artist’s lyrical acrobatics. Simz enumerates the anxieties, troubles and triumphs of her life and career throughout the album’s 19 tracks – this album already has an undeniably classic quality. It is a singular expansion of the possibilities of hip-hop, of pop music more generally, and an unrepentantly fantastic album of Baroque ambition and fabulous execution. (Lloyd Bolton – Contributor)

Lunar Vacation – Inside Every Fig Is A Dead Wasp
The latest album from Atlanta-based Lunar Vacation, Inside Every Fig Is A Dead Wasp oozes a shimmering allure throughout. As each track treats the ears to whirring hooks and a sparkling musicality, I just fall more in love with Grace Repasky’s honey-sweet crystalline vocals on each listen. Floating seamlessly with an ethereal splendour, a stirring melancholy ripples on a seemingly serene surface, creating a perfectly dreamy collection. With shades of Alvvays or Best Coast, Lunar Vacation have fast become one of my most favourite bands of 2021. (ML)

New Pagans – The Seed, The Vessel, The Roots and All
An intuitive rumination on the personal and the political, New Pagans’ debut album The Seed, The Vessel, The Roots and All is a gritty, deeply poetic consideration of inequality and social injustice. Released via Big Scary Monsters, the Belfast band’s first full length record dives into the paraphernalia surrounding religion, romance and women’s pain, and resurfaces having transformed these tired archetypes into aural talismans of strength and defiance. I’m such a big fan of everything they’ve released so far and I’m hoping to hear these songs live at some point in 2022. (KC)

Noga Erez – KIDS
The GIHE team collectively adore Tel-Aviv producer & pop renegade Noga Erez’s second album, KIDS. It’s a stylish, swaggering collection of songs that explore personal growth, morality and what it means to disconnect and reconnect with the world around you. Erez has worked closely alongside her collaborative & life partner Ori Rousso to create a razor sharp, intensely catchy record that proves she’s got the musical mileage she sings of. Through her witty lyrics, slick production and commanding beats, she blazes a unique musical trail that pulses with authentic energy, spotlighting her talent as a producer, vocalist, MC and performer. What a star. (KC)

Nova Twins Presents: Voices For The Unheard
Driven by their desire to spotlight the work of underrepresented artists of colour in the heavy music scene, Nova Twins aka Amy Love and Georgia South put together this blistering collection of alternative anthems with the help of Dr Martens to showcase this eclectic range of talent. Featuring tracks by Big Joanie, Khx05, Loathe, Oxymorrons & LutSickPuppy, the record is a fun, furious blur of noise from a group of artists who have been galvanized by their individual experiences of discrimination, but who are now united in their attempts to create the music they wish they had heard growing up. A proper gem of a record that’s introduced me to some brilliant artists this year. (KC)

pink suits – political child
Having completely blown us away with their riotous, seething energy at our first gig at The Shacklewell Arms earlier this month, queer Margate duo pink suits released their debut album political child, in the Spring. With just drums, a guitar and the riotous force of their voices, Lennie and Ray offer an inclusive feminist rebellion to bring about radical change – with each powerful track on the collection, they deliver a seething, all-too-poignant social commentary on the increasingly terrifying state of the UK right now. Throughout political child, pink suits offer a perfect riotous catharsis; an immense formidable force, coated in a rousing cacophony. The duo have provided an utterly necessary soundtrack for these times; a rallying cry to make our voices heard and fight for an upheaval of a neoliberal society. (ML)

Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend
Each time I’ve tried to write about Wolf Alice’s third album, Blue Weekend, I’ve fallen short of the words to describe how profoundly comforting I find it. Emotional, but with a few grunge ragers thrown in there too – plus a lyric that everyone should adopt as a mantra “I am what I am and I’m good at it / and you don’t like me? Well that isn’t fucking relevant” – Ellie Rowsell’s magnificent, elastic vocals and poignant lyrics effortlessly stretch across the record. I listened to Blue Weekend twice a day for over a month, discovering something new every time I let its cinematic sounds wash over me. Pure musical escapism that’s rooted in real fucking feelings. Properly sublime stuff. (KC)

EPs

Ailsa Tully – Holy Isle
Long term favourite of GIHE, Welsh artist Ailsa Tully released her EP in Autumn this year. Offering four exquisite slices of stirring folk-strewn indie, Holy Isle showcases Tully’s ability to reflect on feelings of vulnerability and loss with a gently uplifting, sparkling grace. As the collection flows with a shimmering, stripped-back musicality, the juxtaposition of Tully’s crystalline, honey-sweet vocals and the gentle lilting melodies creates a delicate, captivating majesty. As the beautifully rippling instrumentation glistens with a heartfelt splendour, I can’t help but become utterly immersed in the raw emotion and poignant, resplendent charm of Holy Isle in its entirety. (ML)

Aisha Badru – The Way Back Home
Having previously charmed our ears with the soothing sounds of last year’s ‘Soil’s Daughter’ and 2018’s poignant debut album Pendulum, singer-songwriter Aisha Badru released her EP The Way Back Home earlier this month. Flowing with twinkling, folk-inspired hooks alongside Badru’s rich, soulful vocals, each track oozes an immersive, heartfelt emotion. With a gentle, lilting energy and shimmering grace, a sweeping majestic splendour soars throughout this beautifully stirring collection as it soothes the mind with its gently uplifting allure. (ML)

Bitch Hunt – Shapeshifter
Having formed at First Timers Fest in 2017, London based non-binary band Bitch Hunt have since played live for us and been lovely guests on our show on Soho Radio. This year they released their debut EP Shapeshifter, via Reckless Yes. A shimmering collection of five lo-fi, yet heartfelt, offerings, it reflects on themes ranging from nostalgia and relationships, to gender and identity, delivered with a wonderfully scuzzy musicality and twinkling energy. Treating us to their effervescent, stirring brand of unique punk-pop, Bitch Hunt have crafted a collection that is beautifully poignant, whilst offering a welcome glimmer of optimism and solidarity. (ML)

BLAB – Word of Mouth
Formed of three previously released singles and a brand new track, Southend-based BLAB‘s debut EP is the sound of a songwriter fully embracing their own choices and leaning into the raw power of each moment. Released via Cool Thing Records, BLAB aka Frances Murray combines direct lyrics with infectious guitar riffs to push past personal and political frustrations, providing her listeners with sharply observed judgements on both. (KC)

Deep Tan – Creeping Speedwells
With acclaim from the likes of NME, So Young and BBC 6Music, Hackney-based trio deep tan have been favourites here at GIHE for some time now, and we’ve been very much enjoying their debut EP Creeping Speedwells, which was released this summer. Propelled by glitchy beats and whirring, twinkling hooks, each track captivates the ears with the trio’s compelling seductive allure. Flowing with fuzzed-out shades of ’90s trip-hop, whilst maintaining a unique sparkling edge and gently haunting majesty, the whole collection offers a spellbinding, rousing splendour that’ll immerse you in its dark, psychedelic haze. (ML)

Hilary Woods – Feral Hymns
I saw the title of this EP, listened to 30 seconds of it and downloaded it IMMEDIATELY. Released via Sacred Bones, Feral Hymns by Irish multi-instrumentalist Hilary Woods captures a relatable sense of gloom across five instrumentals that she worked on with collaborator Lasse Marhaug. Woods describes her ambiguous sounds as “A collection of hymns set at dusk…Unspoken bonds, primal pain, cyclical patterns, unsent love letters.” I find her melancholy, fleshy sounds intensely moving and I can’t wait to hear the new full length record she’s currently working on. (KC)

Jenny Moore’s Mystic Business – He Earns Enough
Featuring members of Trash Kit, F*Choir and Bamboo, Jenny Moore’s Mystic Business are a six-piece choral punk ensemble who released their debut EP in October. A poignant collection covering themes such as the struggles of living in a patriarchal, capitalist society and the fears women and gender minority people face when walking home alone, He Earns Enough showcases the soaring, harmonious power of voices coming together in unity. With each track propelled by an anthemic, mystical energy, the collection offers a simple, yet stirring, message, oozing a sweeping, celestial splendour that’ll bewitch the listener instantly with its eerily enchanting allure. (ML)

M(h)aol – Gender Studies
I was blown away by the power of Irish post punks M(h)aol when I saw them perform their debut EP live at The Shacklewell Arms in November. The brooding, shadowy sounds on Gender Studies vehemently reject outdated attitudes and social constraints concerning gender, identity and equality. It’s a vital, much needed antidote to toxic patriarchal standards, providing listeners with a cathartic exhale of fury and freedom. (KC)

TOKKY HORROR – I Found The Answers And Now I Want More
GIHE writer Jay Mitra penned a great review of dance-punk trio TOKKY HORROR’s debut EP earlier this year, branding it “a cyber goth masterpiece that hits you as hard as MDMA” – and they’re not wrong. Packed full of manic electronics and pounding beats, I Found The Answers And Now I Want More is a whirlwind of EDM energy that’s impossible to sit still to. (KC)

Honourable Mentions

Alex Loveless – Phone Keys & Wallet (EP)
Arlo Parks – Collapsed In Sunbeams
BISHI –Let My Country Awake
CHERYM – Hey Tori (EP)
Elodie Gervaise – Syzergy (EP)
Elsa Hewitt – LUPA
Grace Petrie – Connectivity
Halsey –If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power
Maria Uzor – Innocence and Worldliness (EP)
Me Rex – Megabear
Naoko Sakata – Dancing Spirits
Nun Habit – Hedge Fun (EP)
Okay Kaya – The Incompatible
Penelope Trappes – Penelope Three
SPELLLING – The Turning Wheel
Tirzah – Colourgrade
YAY MARIA – OYEZ
WILLOW – Lately I Feel Everything

INTERVIEW: Sian O’Gorman (NYX Drone Choir)

We first discovered the altruistic sounds of the NYX Drone Choir in 2018, when they performed a live collaboration with Gazelle Twin at London’s Oval Space. Harnessing the collective power of the female voice and distorting it with the use of electronics, mics and software, the choir – who are musically directed by New Zealand-born Sian O’Gorman – create captivating soundscapes that enrapture the senses and push the boundaries of what a conventional choral performance can be.

Their latest project is a Remix EP of their own track ‘Mutualism‘ featuring MA.MOYO, released via their own label NYX Collective. The EP features contributions from Anna Wall, Deena Abdelwahed, LCY and Sian, with each re-working attributed to one of the four natural elements. The single and EP aim to “look at our relationship with nature, symbiosis transformation and collective consciousness.”

We caught up with Sian to talk about the Mutualism project, her route to becoming the choir’s director, the immense power and opportunity that collaboration has brought into her life, and creating & performing Deep England alongside Gazelle Twin…

 

Hello Sian! Can you remember who or what first inspired you to start singing and creating music?

This is embarrassing, but I was definitely one of those children who was always like “I’m going to do a show, everybody gather round!” I was always very into singing and performing, that was always a big love of mine. I grew up singing in opera choruses when I was a little girl and then started singing in a couple of national choirs in New Zealand. I then studied classical singing at university and I completely screwed it up a bit, to be honest. It made me realise I didn’t want to become a classical singer. I wasn’t really connecting with the music or the people. I really enjoyed the technical side of it, but I really struggled because it just wasn’t my kind of music. I was more into alternative or contemporary classical. I also loved singers like Bjork, PJ Harvey and slightly more left-field stuff when I was younger, so that definitely drew me in to starting to create music that was a little bit different.

I don’t think you “screwed up” at university. You didn’t follow a “traditional” route perhaps, but look where that’s lead you – you now direct the NYX drone choir! Tell me how you first came to meet the women that you formed it with…

I’ve always loved harmonising. Even as a little kid, I remember singing along to the radio and I loved singing with other people. I think through the classical route, apart from the choirs that I sang in which were always really inspirational, the solo singing at university became a lot more intellectual and it got very competitive and egotistical, so I just broke away from that. I started to get a lot more into yoga and meditation, plant medicines, retreats and things, and I really started really expanding my mind out. Through that, I realised the reason why I loved singing so much was because of the celebratory aspect of it, being with other human beings and using your voices together. The power that all these individual could voices feed in and create this amazing synergetic explosion of sound that was so much more than the sum of their individual parts.

Before I started up NYX, I was getting really heavily into more ambient music, using my voice and layering it on top of itself, and I thought to myself “wouldn’t it be amazing to have a group of women, all standing in a circle, creating a sound bath, using the power electronics to assist and maintain that kind of drone sound?” That was the initial idea. So NYX started out as me just jamming with a couple of friends. Then I talked to my friend Phillipa about it, who is an amazing creative producer and fundraiser. She just makes things happen. She was working on Convergence Festival with Josh at the time, and they said they wanted to do another project together, and he was really interested in the idea as well. So the three of us started producing and bringing everyone else together.

It sounds like the perfect meeting of minds. You’ve achieved so much together since then, including releasing this Mutualism remix EP through your own label, NYX Collective. Talk me through the idea behind original track, the inspiration for the EP and how it all came together…

The concept for ‘Mutualism’ was kind of just a seed of an idea a few years ago, and now it’s grown into a tree, and the branches of that tree are reaching out everywhere. It started taking shape around the first lockdown – because that’s how we describe the timings of things now. I wanted to create a project that involved all of the members of NYX, but it was also kind of technical experiment that we could all do remotely. I wanted to get everybody really good at recording at home, experimenting at home, and passing things on to each other.

At the same time, I was also really starting to get massively blown away by the division and the way people were communicating with each other in lockdown, especially the way we were seeing the world, our friends and our communities play out, which seemed to be on social media a lot of the time. I was overwhelmed with this narrative of fear that was dividing people, so I really wanted to create a piece that questioned how we could repair this relationship with ourselves and with each other, which to me, is also the relationship that we all have towards the planet. I know that sounds a bit cheesy, but I really do see the connection when people disconnect with the earth, they also disconnect with others and then with themselves.

So, I introduced these concepts to Belinda Zhawi, who’s artist name is MA.MOYO. She actually opened for us at Oval Space back in 2018. I’d always wanted to create a piece with her because I was so moved by her spoken word. Every time I’d seen her, my whole heart would just explode with the magnificence of the way that she crafts words. I then spoke to our core team, which includes visual artist Nick Cobby, our movement director Imogen and our sound associate Peter Rice. Together, we came up with this concept of “mutualism” which I interpret as mutual dependence on one another. It’s not a desperate type of dependence, it’s a real true trusting connection between people, between animals, between creatures, between plants. It’s a true supporting of one another and a finding of the middle ground.

We brainstormed a few things and we came up with some images, videos and text that connected with these idea. We had the image of Marina Abramović for her Rest Energy piece, where she’s holding a bow and arrow with her partner Ulay, and we had some amazing videos of nature as well. I then made a heartbeat-type of noise that I sent to Belinda to get a tempo from her. Then she laid down this poem in response to those images and sounds, which I passed on to all of the NYX singers. They each went away for a couple of weeks and just responded to that poetry and those images. One of the girls went into a bunker in the middle of Devon and recorded this amazing stuff with crystal glasses, singing into the earth and a cave. One of the girls sat with an organ and a clarinet, and other people involved were gathering field recordings from all over. So, I took all of the recordings that everybody had made, which as you can imagine, was hours and hours and hours of stuff. I sifted through it all and I picked out pieces from a number of different contributors, and I began to piece the music together with the poetry, and then I got my friend Dave who is an amazing saxophone player to feed in some more sex layers towards the end.

So once the initial track ‘Mutualism’ was completed, we exclusively launched it along with the interactive 360° video that Nick shot at Rewire Festival in April. With this particular track though, we knew from the beginning that we really wanted to remix it. That also really fitted into this idea of wanting to keep passing things on and re-evolving. We managed to secure funding from PRS for their Women Make Music fund. With that, we basically pitched that we wanted to create an EP of remixes from female and non-binary identifying people, and create an evolution of this piece. We have a massive list of people who we already love working with, so we passed it out to people who we thought would like to get involved. Working with LCY was such a joyous experience. They responded so well, so did the amazing Deena Abdelwahed, and our beautiful friend Anna Wall, who also opened for us at the Oval Space performance in 2018.

We didn’t really define what we wanted from them, we were just like “we know that you know yourselves, we really want you to go crazy with how you interpret this.” I also wanted to do a remix because I’d been working on these stems so much, I really wanted to play around with the choral stuff at the end. So we all created these pieces and when everybody started sending them back, I heard them, and I was like, “wow, these seem to personify all of the natural elements Belinda is talking about in the piece.” Re-mixing the tracks to represent a certain element wasn’t in the original commission. It wasn’t even an idea until I heard all the pieces together, so we ended up naming them after the four elements after that.

I think that’s such a wonderful achievement, to let everyone bring their own ideas to the piece, then simultaneously find a theme that unifies each of the different works. Surely that’s the perfect type of collaboration?

What do you personally think makes for a collaboration as strong as this? Do you think it’s just like-minded people working together, or do you think there’s something else in it as well?

That’s such a good question. I often just sit and ponder this. I don’t know what it is, but every single person we work with, is just fucking awesome. We work with such a diverse range of people from all different worlds – I mean, even our lawyer is such a good dude and our accountants are lovely people! That’s a pretty collaborative process too.

I think for me, collaboration is listening. It’s listening to each other, hearing what you can offer, hearing what others can offer and meeting in the middle. It really is like the lyrics to ‘Mutualism’ – “meet me in the middle”. I mean, it’s the nature of a choir to be very collaborative anyway, but the way in which we run NYX projects is very open. It just really feels like everyone that we collaborate with instantly feels like they’re a part of the family and part of something. So I guess collaborating is about recognising and celebrating people’s differences, celebrating the uniqueness of everyone.

That’s a really lovely way of describing it. I remember reading something that Gazelle Twin (Elizabeth Bernholz) said after she worked with NYX on your collaborative album, Deep England. I’m paraphrasing here, but she mentioned that she usually prefers to work solo and shies away from collaboration, but working with NYX was beautiful because you all shared and enhanced the same vision.

As a huge fan of the work you all did on Deep England – I was blown away by your live performance at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in 2019 – can you talk me through some of the highlights of working on this project with Elizabeth?

Of course, thank you so much for your support! When we first started NYX, we already knew we really wanted to collaborate with female and non-binary electronic musicians. Particularly because we had friends in that world and they often talked about how lonely it was, and how isolating it can be. I had loved Gazelle Twin for years, and years, and years. She was absolutely at the top of my list for collaborating. We sent a pitch out to her and straight away, she said yes. We’d never even met her, but as soon as we had this talk with her on the phone with her and her manager Steve, we instantly had this great connection.

When I initially approached her, I’d already had ideas about her existing work and how I could interpret it. I’d gone through her old album Unflesh and chosen pieces that I thought could work, but she said she was about to release a new album called Pastoral. She mentioned that it was based on British paganism and folklore with some existing choral elements, so she sent it to me and I immediately thought “this is going to be great.” This is already a piece of genius in itself, and I can see how NYX can expand this out.

Elizabeth is a master of disguise through creating these characters on each of her albums, so I had no idea how technically insane her voice was when it came to singing. When she first came into the room with us, we all did an acoustic vocal warm-up together, and I think a lot of us were just like – “wow” – she’s phenomenal. She’s a joy to work with, because there’s just such a lack of egotism. Along with her manager Steve, they both supported our idea to release the Deep England album on NYX’s own label. They were great at mentoring us through that.

Elizabeth just has this really fantastic kind of emotional strength, but also this kind of beautiful giggly side to her as well. I think we all just enjoyed working together so much that after the Oval Space show in 2018, we realised we wanted to perform together again so we took it to Southbank Centre, and then we found some funding so we could record an album. We recorded Deep England in a day and a half actually. We co-produced it with Marta Salogni, who’s the most amazing engineer. It just felt like the most magical team of people working together, which just gives evidence to the fact that you can really create something magical when you pass it over to the collective and look beyond yourself. It’s really special and I’m so happy with how many people have heard that album, and how many people really, really enjoy it.

Huge thanks to Sian for answering our questions!

Listen to NYX’s remix EP for Mutualism on bandcamp below or on Spotify

 

Follow NYX Drone Choir on InstagramTwitter & Facebook

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: Gazelle Twin & NYX – ‘Deep England’

A new species of performer who offers listeners an unflinching, but intensely thrilling perspective on the past, present and future; electronic artist Gazelle Twin has collaborated with NYX drone choir to create Deep England, a shadowy, graceful collection of sounds that radiate with unease.

Inspired by the tracks that formed Gazelle Twin aka Elizabeth Bernholz’s 2018 album Pastoral, and informed by British paganism and ritualistic paraphernalia, Deep England is a dark fable that serves as a warning to listeners not to get swept up in national apathy. Radically reworked and presented alongside original compositions by NYX, Paul Giovanni and William Blake, Bernholz and NYX present their vision of Britain in its “post-truth” sphere, embroidering a new tapestry of sound for these jarring and uncertain times.

The chiming bells on opening track ‘Glory’ begin the warped aural ceremony, underscored by NYX’s sublime meditative drones. The crystalline notes of the recorder break through, before Bernholz questions “Will you become the saint you want to be?” in her magnificent operatic voice, with the choir echoing her ghastly sentiments. This is dialled up to blood curdling effect on ‘Folly’, with the lyric “What species is this?” being delivered in a multitude of ways. The power of the singular and the collective voice is the lifeblood of Deep England. The fascinating ways in which they are distorted, rippled, extended or layered will keep listeners gripped throughout.

Lifted from the cult 1973 film The Wicker Man, a goose-bump inducing interpretation of ‘Fire Leap’ continues the aural séance. Overlapping recorders – instruments of nostalgic folly turned into frightening farce – are made all the more sinister by the chanted motif “Take the flame inside you / Burn and burn below”. This warped incantation bleeds into the abrupt, skittish ‘Better In My Day’. It buzzes with a nervous energy, with Bernholz and NYX snarling their way through the lyrics in frenzied, breathy fashion. They continue to “pick the wound” of tradition with morbid fascination on ‘Throne’, singing and hissing of “insolvency” and racking up debts.

The stunning vocal harmonies on ‘Jerusalem’ and the eponymous ‘Deep England’ set the cells alight. Underscored by the now familiar hypnotic drone loops, these intense hymn-like offerings cast shadows and shed light simultaneously, with the latter dissolving the ears over eight and a half minutes. Composed by Sian O’Gorman, the ominous ‘Golden Dawn’ closes the album on a heavy, but hopeful note. The title refers to The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a secret society devoted to the practice of the occult and paranormal activities during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It’s a cinematic, aural exorcism delivered with spellbinding flair.

Whilst Bernholz’s unique vision of Britain’s past was brought vividly to life on her original record Pastoral, with the support of the NYX drone choir her vitriol is able to take its fullest, most nerve-shredding form on Deep England. It’s a phenomenal artistic accomplishment, a jarring reminder that our dark past is never too far behind us and it’s truly unlike anything you’ve heard before.

Listen to Deep England on bandcamp or Spotify

Follow Gazelle Twin on bandcampSpotifyInstagramTwitter & Facebook

Follow NYX Drone Choir on bandcampSpotifyInstagramTwitter & Facebook

Album Credits
Performers: Adélaïde Pratoussy, Cecilia Forssberg, Elizabeth Bernholz, Natalie Sharp, Ruth Corey, Shireen Qureshi and Sian O’Gorman.

Co-produced by Marta Salogni, Sian O’Gorman (NYX) and Elizabeth Bernholz (Gazelle Twin). Mixing & additional programming by Marta Salogni and mastering by Heba Kadry.

Photo Credit: Jamie Cameron

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LISTEN: Gazelle Twin & NYX – ‘Fire Leap’

A thrilling, nightmarish, pagan-inspired tune, Gazelle Twin and NYX Electronic Drone Choir have shared their new single ‘Fire Leap’. Taken from their upcoming album Deep England, which is set for release via NYX Collective Records on 19th March 2021, the track is a goose-bump inducing interpretation of the same song featured in the cult 1973 film, The Wicker Man.

Inspired by the songs that formed Gazelle Twin’s (aka Elizabeth Bernholz) critically acclaimed 2018 album Pastoral, Deep England continues the artist’s harrowing up of England’s “rotten past” and exploration of its uncertain future. GIHE were lucky enough to experience this collaborative effort live in 2019 at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall (read the full review here), and we were dazzled by their ghastly yet glorious performance.

Speaking about their upcoming record, Gazelle Twin & NYX comment: “Here lies our ancient future, Deep England: our hope and compassion in the chokehold of power and glory. Hand in hand, here we cry our rage: summoning a lament into the ether, a divine androgynous force, a transcendental purge of the dizzying chaos of post-truth Britain.”

Listen to ‘Fire Leap’ below and pre-order your copy of Deep England here.

Follow Gazelle Twin on bandcamp, Spotify, Instagram, Twitter & Facebook

Follow NYX Drone Choir on bandcamp, Spotify, Instagram, Twitter & Facebook

Credits for Deep England
Adélaïde Pratoussy, Cecilia Forssberg, Elizabeth Bernholz, Natalie Sharp, Ruth Corey, Shireen Qureshi and Sian O’Gorman.
Co-produced by Marta Salogni, Sian O’Gorman (NYX) and Elizabeth Bernholz (Gazelle Twin)
Mix and additional programming by Marta Salogni
Mastering by Heba Kadry

Photo Credit: Jamie Cameron

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut