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.

LIVE: Laura Gibson @ Queen Elizabeth Hall, 13.11.18

Having first fallen in love with Laura Gibson’s delicate, soaring vocals upon hearing 2016’s Empire Builder, it was an honour to be able to catch her live at one of my favourite London spaces last Tuesday.

Upon commencing her set at Queen Elizabeth Hall, a humble Gibson takes to the stage along with a trio of musicians, thanking us all for being there and revealing that when she creates music, she’s at her “most alone” but now – sharing her creations with us – she’s at her “most connected”. Immediately oozing her trademark spellbinding charm, and looping together layers of twinkling musicality, she treats our ears to a selection of offerings, from both her new album Goners and 2016’s aforementioned collection. From the majestic, folk-strewn melodies of the likes of ‘Slow Joke Grin’ and the sparkling splendour of ‘I Carry Water’ to the gentle, stirring emotion of ‘Damn Sure’, each poignant track tugs at the heartstrings in all the right ways.

Despite issues with a broken cable , Gibson remains calm, maintaining her charming rapport and endearing humour with the crowd throughout – “Well, the cable has been around the world with me, I guess London will be its final resting place”. And, when recalling the difficulties of touring Goners in certain European countries where the word doesn’t quite translate, her gentle wit continues to shine through.

With the majority of the set seeing Gibson at the helm of the keys, with her new material having generally more of an eclectic, musically varied sound that older offerings, she reveals that “… it’s been good to be free from the guitar strap”, before placing it over her head once more and breaking into the gritty whirring hooks of ‘Tenderness’. Succeeding in casting her spell over the crowd, Gibson’s sweeping vocals and heartfelt emotion is showcased at its more raw and spine-tinglingly powerful in (personal favourite) ‘Marjory’; a beautifully intimate offering complete with heady, soul-stirring strings courtesy of Kyleen King.

Following the closing two tracks from Goners, ‘Thomas’ and ‘I Don’t Want Your Voice To Move Me’, Gibson draws the set to a close with the glistening, uptempo sounds of Empire Builder’s ‘Not Harmless’. And all at once it becomes crystal clear that she is perfectly suited to playing in a venue of such prestige; the exquisite cinematic splendour of each and every offering matching its subtle grandeur completely.

Although I unfortunately had to make my way home before Dan Mangan took to the stage (and apparently played some wonderful songs with Laura too), what I did see of Gibson I am extremely grateful for. In a world that’s so swamped in darkness and fear at the moment, I couldn’t help but be filled with a certain sense of hope witnessing her heartfelt, exquisite grace and dreamy allure.

Mari Lane
@marimindles