STILL SPINNING: Gazelle Twin – ‘The Entire City’

Our Still Spinning feature focuses on records that we consider to be iconic – whether that’s for popular, or personal reasons – and celebrates our enduring love for them. Get In Her Ears Co-Founder & Features Editor Kate Crudgington talks us through why electronic artist Gazelle Twin’s debut album, The Entire City, released in July 2011, is still one of her most influential listens to date.

Named after a painting by German surrealist artist Max Ernst, Gazelle Twin’s debut album The Entire City was released via her own imprint Anti-Ghost Moon Ray on 11th July 2011. Independently composed, recorded and produced, her ambiguous lyrics and altruistic sounds invited her listeners into a world that offered both shimmering intrigue and heavy shadow in equal measure.

It was my older brother Joe who originally introduced me to Gazelle Twin aka Elizabeth Bernholz in 2014, citing her second album Unflesh as one of the best things he’d ever heard. I used to lay in the dark, headphones on, listening to it and feeling an odd sense of calm, as waves of nervous energy rippled through me. That record changed my idea of what electronic music could sound like and I was captivated by the persona printed on the album’s cover. Blue hoodie, long brown hair, a partially covered face and an open mouth revealing a snarling pair of teeth. Menacing yet enticing, terrifying yet familiar. Gazelle Twin was an enigma – communicating with listeners through harrowing imagery and nerve-shredding synths.

Back then, I had no idea she had released her debut album three years earlier, or that it would sound so different. Having encountered Unflesh first, listening to The Entire City felt like an ambient fairy-tale in comparison. But, as with all of her obscure creations, what Gazelle Twin excels at is contrasting the darkness with the light, so even if that darkness sometimes feels all consuming – like it often does on Unflesh and on her stunning third record Pastoral – the sublime still manages to shine through too. The Entire City is a sonic landscape littered with dense concrete, intimidating obelisks and unknown relics, but it’s also teeming with life.

Filled with twitchy drum samples, cinematic synths and her uniquely operatic vocals, The Entire City received flattering comparisons to Fever Ray when it was originally released, but I think Bernholz’s sound is often grittier and more detached. There’s an underlying feeling of voyeurism as you wander through her musical landscapes, something I feel she captures perfectly on the eponymous opening track, with her extended high pitch vocals guiding the way, like a thrilling race through deserted streets. It bleeds into the breathy stillness of ‘Concrete Mother’ and the hypnotic ‘Men Like Gods’, two of my favourite tracks on the record.

It feels odd to pick apart and review The Entire City on a track-by-track basis, because it has such a cohesive sound. Each time I listen I feel like I’m being shrouded in Bernholz’s graceful, unsettling sonic paraphernalia; her cryptic lyrics and eerie electronics lulling me into a false sense of security. The subtle power of her voice on ‘I Am Shell I Am Bone’ and ‘Changelings’ is intoxicating, whilst on ‘Obelisk’ – another favourite of mine – her blend of dense beats and crystalline synths evolves into an exquisite electronic hymn. Punctuated by briefer tracks like ‘Far From Home’, ‘Bell Tower’ and ‘Fight-or-Flight’ – on which she flexes her operatic voice sensationally – she ensnares the senses and gently pushes listeners into unchartered territories across the album. In retrospect, ‘View Of A Mountain’ feels like a hint at what was to come, it’s the kind of instrumental that would sit comfortably on Unflesh.

Steeped in shadow and mystery, The Entire City is a fascinating introduction to a truly progressive artist who has evolved into a new species of performer since 2011. Not known for revisiting her previous albums or personas, Gazelle Twin’s sights remain fixed on her future projects and I can’t wait to immerse myself in more of her visceral sounds.

 

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Album Artwork: Suzanne Moxhay

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LISTEN: Gazelle Twin – ‘The Well’

A sinister, cinematic offering that chimes with a bleak beauty, Gazelle Twin aka Elizabeth Bernholz has shared her latest single ‘The Well’. Lifted from the official soundtrack for upcoming east-end based supernatural thriller The Power, the track is a spine-tingling offering from this multi-talented electronic music pioneer. The score will be released digitally on 8th April via Invada Records, with a vinyl release to follow.

Working alongside composer Max de Wardener to curate the score for the the film, which was written and directed by BAFTA nominated screenwriter Corinna Faith, ‘The Well’ is a piece of Bernholz’s solo vision that fitted the tone of The Power so well, it was added to the track-list without hesitation. “Working with Corinna and Max didn’t feel much like work,” Bernholz explains. “It was a long haul thrill, from our field trip to the derelict wing of Goodmayes Hospital to record squeaky trolleys and smashed pill bottles, to making countless experiments with samples, voice, and electronics, pushing them in every extreme direction we could think of. The results bring me a lot of joy. I hope the collaboration continues.”

Contrasting these samples with her sublime vocals and un-nerving electronics, Bernholz has enhanced the tension and claustrophobia that permeates Faith’s Victorian-set thriller, which follows nurse Val on her first round of night-shifts in an eerie London hospital ward. The Power will be available exclusively to stream on Shudder from 8th April.

Listen to ‘The Well’ below.

 

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Photo Credit: Victor Frankowski

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