LIVE: Gazelle Twin & NYX present ‘Deep England’ – Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre 20.11.19

A deeply engrossing, ghastly, yet intensely beautiful carousel of sound: Gazelle Twin‘s (Elizabeth Bernholz) ‘Deep England’ collaboration with the NYX Drone Choir is unlike anything you’ve ever seen, or heard before. Inspired by the tracks that form Bernholz’s 2018 album, Pastoral, this performance continues her harrowing up of England’s “rotten past” and exploration of its uncertain future.

Through the power of combined operatic voices, St. George-Meets-The-Handmaid’s-Tale costumes, and creative staging; Bernholz and her team have created a claustrophobic, charged gallop of anarchy with this latest endeavour. “What species is this?” questions Bernholz & the NYX choir through their overlapping vocals on ‘Folly’, an apt observation from a group of women who have powerful, beguiling voices. They are all used to full effect during a riveting, acapella rendition of following track ‘Glory’.

Informed by British paganism and ritualistic activity, ‘Deep England’ feels almost supernatural at points, and this is especially noticeable during ‘Fire Leap, lifted from the cult 1973 film The Wicker Man. Multiple recorders and kazoos are played – instruments of nostalgic folly turned in to present, frightening farce – as the women slowly move around the stage, chanting the lyrical motif “Take the flame inside you / Burn and burn below”, like a warped spell.

‘Better In My Day’ abruptly breaks this spell, with its nervous, persistent percussion. It stands out in terms of volume and energy, with Bernholz and her chorus performing frenzied, yet stunted movements whilst they spit and snarl their way through the lyrics. A spotlight on a tree at the back of the stage (which has been present throughout the performance) commands Bernholz to sit under it. The intro synth sequence to ‘Sunny Stories’ begins to play, and she delivers her dark fable under the fake foliage, gently lulling her choir in to following track ‘Golden Dawn’.

‘Throne’ brings Bernholz back to centre stage and down to her knees, as she sings of “insolvency” and eating your debts. Eponymous track ‘Deep England’ closes the performance in the same un-nerving way it began; dimly lit, with the women’s voices seething in unison. Whilst Bernholz’s unique vision was brought vividly to life on her original record Pastoral, it’s with the aid of the NYX drone choir during ‘Deep England’ that her vitriol takes its fullest form. ‘Deep England’ is a phenomenal accomplishment, and a jarring reminder that our past is never too far behind us.

‘Deep England’ Credits:
Gazelle Twin: Elizabeth Bernholz
NYX vocalists: Adelaide Pratoussy, Cecilia Forssberg, Natalie Sharp, Ruth Corey, Shireen Querishi, Sian O’Gorman
Compositions and Music Direction: Elizabeth Bernholz and Sian O’Gorman
Movement Director: Imogen Knight
Sound Associate: Peter Rice
Production and Costume Design: Chloe Lamford
Stylist: Anna Josephs

‘Deep England’ was performed as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival 2019.

Photo Credit: Jamie Cameron

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Gazelle Twin & NYX Electronic Drone Choir to perform ‘Deep England’ as part of EFG London Jazz Festival

A unique artist with razor sharp vision and uncompromising creativity; Gazelle Twin (aka Elizabeth Bernholz) has paired up with the NYX electronic drone choir once again to perform ‘Deep England’; a hair-raising transformation of her recent album Pastoral, which exhumes England’s “rotten past” and questions its uncertain future. The performance will take place on 20th November at Southbank Centre, as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival.

The collaboration was first commissioned and performed in December 2018 as part of a collaborative series at London’s Oval Space, but now Bernholz’s operatic voice will be displayed in all its glory alongside the equally as powerful voices of the NYX choir in the prestigious Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Together, Bernholz and NYX use their voices, acoustic glitching, polyphonic overtone and ambient textures to bring Gazelle Twin’s Pastoral vision to life. The unique choir explore and test the limits of organic and synthetic modulation to explore the entire spectrum of collective female voice as an instrument. Their veiled Handmaid’s-Tale-esque silhouettes are a formidable sight on stage, so expect to be blown away by the power and the glory of their live show.

GIHE will be at the show, and we urge you to grab a ticket for it here.

For more information about EFG London Jazz Festival events, click here.

ALBUM: Gazelle Twin – ‘Pastoral’

A unique artist with razor sharp vision and uncompromising creativity; Gazelle Twin (aka Elizabeth Bernholz) combines glitchy beats, menacing samples and an uncanny new costume on her forthcoming album, Pastoral. Set to be released via her own label Anti-Ghost Moon Ray on 21st September, the record marks another transformation for the performer; this time she’s exhuming England’s “rotten past” and questioning its uncertain future.

Bernholz has been honing her own unique vision since the release of her debut album, The Entire City, in 2001. She released her sophomore record Unflesh in 2014 to critical acclaim, and between Motherhood and curating another two atmospheric records (2016’s Out Of Body & 2017’s audio/visual project Kingdom Come), she’s now released Pastoral – and it’s been worth the wait.

“What species is this? What century is this?” she questions on opener ‘Folly’, in a vocal pitch so high it practically curdles the blood. It sets the precedent for the rest of the album – electronic soundscapes that form a permanent sense of unease. Nervous, persistent percussion and repeated lyrics on ‘Better In My Day’ act as an apt parody of the clichéd phrase the track is named after. Bernholz’s warped vocals drip with apathy on ‘Little Lambs’, alongside twitchy synth samples and pulverizing drums. It seamlessly transitions in to ‘Old Thorn’, which recycles the same synth sequences, but which ring out with a different kind of intensity.

Gazelle Twin’s dystopian carousel of sound continues on following track ‘Dieu Et Mon Droit’, which translates as “God and my right”. The phrase is a motto associated with the British Monarchy, and Bernholz’s lyric “Dripping down like shit in to the sewer” feels like a repulsive but brilliant analogy to the Monarch’s inheritance to divine rights. It’s followed by ‘Throne’ – a brief but intriguing interlude of echos and slowly spoken words about power and the wounds it inflicts. When these tracks are performed live, one can imagine Bernholz’s jester-like, red and white costume acting as a powerful vitriolic visual aid here.

Midway through the record we arrive at ‘Mongrel’, with its lyrics – “what species is this? What century is this?” – shadowing opening track ‘Folly’. Her motif provides an insight in to the exhaustion her exploration of these themes can bring. The line “I’m too tired to protest but I’m too worried I’ll regret this. I’m not ready to accept this” feels particularly poignant in the current Brexit-obsessed political climate. The remarkable ‘Glory’ follows, with its slow-building, beguiling vocals and steady, deep drums that spread out across ominous synths.

The daintily named ‘Tea Rooms’ describes the unease of “living in a pastoral picture”, highlighting the uncomfortable reality lurking behind England’s quaint postcard image. The atmospheric ‘Jerusalem’ follows, before the marching beats and seething spoken-word lyrics of ‘Dance Of The Peddlers’ kicks in. It’s less of a dance, more a defiant attack on the Peddlers she speaks of. It transitions seamlessly in to the heart-palpitating ‘Hobby Horse’, which acts like a warning to said Peddlers to “get on your hobby horse and get out of here”. With her humble recorder, bared teeth and samples of football hooligan chants; Bernholz has created a claustrophobic, charged gallop of anarchy.

The false joviality of the synth sequences on ‘Sunny Stories’ are undermined by Bernholz’s powerful vocal display and an ominous under layer of sinister noise that rings out at even interludes. It’s a haunting penultimate track, and is followed by ‘Over The Hills’ which closes the record with an intriguing forty seconds of voice samples and a hymn-like soundscape. Gazelle Twin delivers her Pastoral vision through grinning but gritted teeth. Her altruistic style is one that can’t be mimicked – even though she herself is a master at adopting the traits of others, and transforming in to a new species of performer who offers brutality and intrigue in equal measure.

Pastoral is released on 21 September 2018 via Anti-Ghost Moon Ray. Pre-order here.
Follow Gazelle Twin on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

WATCH: Gazelle Twin – ‘Hobby Horse’

A unique artist with razor sharp creativity: Gazelle Twin (aka Elizabeth Bernholz) combines glitchy beats, menacing samples and an uncanny costume in the visuals for single ‘Hobby Horse’. It’s the first track from her forthcoming album, Pastoral, set to be released via her own label Anti-Ghost Moon Ray on 21st September.

The video, directed by long-time collaborator Chris Turner, fearlessly displays the themes of the new record; on which Bernholz “exhumes England’s rotten past” whilst simultaneously bringing “its ever-darkening present into focus”. Her costume – Morris-dancer-meets-football-hooligan – is striking enough, but when paired with Turner’s creative use of lighting, slow-mo and close-ups; the visuals become an enticing but nerve-shredding affair.

Speaking about the new video, Bernholz says: “‘Hobby Horse’ is yet another fun-but-deranged experiment in an ever-growing catalogue of collaborations with director Chris Turner. We have a mutual appreciation for the uncanny – especially the kind tinged with a bit of ultra-violence. It’s great working with someone who knows how to capitalise on every kind of “weird” there is, yet still managing to keep performance at the core”.

Gazelle Twin has been forming her own brand of “weird” since the release of her debut album, The Entire City, in 2001. She released her sophomore record Unflesh in 2014 to critical acclaim, and between Motherhood and curating another two atmospheric records (2016’s Out Of Body & 2017’s audio/visual project Kingdom Come), she’s now ready to release the highly anticipated Pastoral – which she debuted live at Supersonic festival earlier this year.

Alongside the release of the ‘Hobby Horse’ video, Gazelle Twin has announced a string of live dates, including a performance at Rough Trade East on Thursday 27th September. We can’t wait to catch her live again, and we recommend you invest in both her new record & a ticket to one of her upcoming shows. Watch the video for ‘Hobby Horse’ below and follow Gazelle Twin on Facebook for more updates.

Pre-order the album, Pastoral, here.

Gazelle Twin 2018 Live Dates
20 Sep – Vooruit, Gent BE
22 Sep – Station Narva Festival, Narva EE
27 Sep – Rough Trade East instore, London UK – 7pm
3 Oct – New Theatre, Warsaw PL (Kingdom Comeperformance)
5 Oct – Soup Kitchen, Manchester UK
11 Oct – Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, Brighton UK (double bill with GAIKA)

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut