The un­set­tling and pre­co­cious Nor­wich duo freak out Bris­tol.

THE BEST BREAK­THROUGH ACT NOM­I­NEES AND EX­PER­I­MEN­TAL POP DUO MESS WITH PEO­PLE’S HEADS IN THE WEST COUN­TRY.

Q (UK) - - Contents - CHRIS CATCHPOLE

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LET’S EAT GRANDMA THE OLD BOOK­SHOP, BRIS­TOL MON­DAY, 24 OC­TO­BER, 2016

Seem­ingly decked out us­ing an in­te­ri­orde­sign mood­board of skulls, stuffed weasels, bits of old steam en­gine and pol­ished Vic­to­rian plumb­ing, Bris­tol’s The Old Book­shop would ap­pear to be the perfect set­ting for Let’s Eat Grandma’s weird, Wic­can pop hy­brid. Re­leased in June, the 17- year-old Nor­wich duo’s de­but al­bum, I Gemini, chews up Day-Glo pop, gnarled folk, hip-hop and avant-garde am­bi­ence and re­gur­gi­tates it all with an oth­er­worldly flour­ish rem­i­nis­cent of Kate Bush and Björk. Com­bine that with their age, waist-length hair and sur­real in-jokes and the pair are of­ten cast more like ne­far­i­ous tree sprites than two teenagers with a keen imag­i­na­tion and know­ing sense of hu­mour. It’s some­thing they en­joy run­ning with for their own amuse­ment. “Es­pe­cially be­cause of our age peo­ple can’t quite grasp the fact that we might be able to make a joke at the same time as hav­ing se­ri­ous songs,” notes Jenny Holling­worth, sat un­der a canopy of rusted dock­yard chains. “Rather than think, ‘Oh, they’ve been mates for a long time, ev­ery­body has in-jokes,’ peo­ple are like, ‘The girls are pos­sessed by the devil! This is how they com­mu­ni­cate with each other!’” “Yes, very creepy. That’s us,” dead­pans band­mate Rosa Wal­ton. “I think it’s good fun to mess with peo­ple, to be hon­est,” adds Holling­worth with a smile. “Maybe that is the darker side to this band.” As the au­di­ence – a mix of the cu­ri­ous, con­verted and, won­der­fully, Wal­ton’s ac­tual grandma – gather round in hushed an­tic­i­pa­tion, the girls emerge swathed in blue light, hair fall­ing over their faces like the VCRd­welling ghoul from hor­ror flick The Ring. Clearly, The Mid­wich Cuck­oos vibe isn’t some­thing they’re in a mas­sive hurry to shake off. It can be gen­uinely un­set­tling at times. Long pas­sages of omi­nously os­cil­lat­ing drones are rife and when they play the spooked, Wicker Man­like recorder parts from Choco­late Sludge Cake you half ex­pect Christo­pher Lee’s Lord Sum­merisle to dance out from be­hind the cur­tain. Yet any sense of a heavy at­mos­phere is punc­tured by the pair oc­ca­sion­ally break­ing out in gig­gles or, more of­ten, a track un­ex­pect­edly swerv­ing off into a com­pletely dif­fer­ent place. What’s re­mark­able about Wal­ton and Holling­worth isn’t so much their man­nered odd­ness, but just how in­ven­tive they are in the space of a sin­gle song. What starts like a me­dieval madri­gal can sud­denly erupt into a break­beat and ac­com­pa­ny­ing rap. When an in­stru­men­tal pas­sage veers too close to an over­long dirge it’s swiftly lifted by lay­ers of cap­ti­vat­ing

counter melodies, while the duo grab man­dolins, wind in­stru­ments and a stone to place on the key­board known af­fec­tion­ately as “Steven the drone stone” to rad­i­cally al­ter a song’s tra­jec­tory. It’s hard to know what to ex­pect from one mo­ment to the next, to the ex­tent that when the pair’s gear packs up at one point and they silently hud­dle round their lap­top, faces lit up by the screen, it’s not en­tirely clear whether this is part of the per­for­mance or not. Only when Ra­pun­zel’s richly gothic pi­ano arpeg­gios break into baby-voiced wail­ing are the walls be­tween in­trigu­ing and ir­ri­tat­ing re­ally breached. As the set winds to­wards its close, they pre­view a new song, Cool And Col­lected. While it fits mu­si­cally into their ear­lier song’s idio­syn­cratic patch­work, lyri­cally it moves away from non­sen­si­cal magic sur­re­al­ism to­wards addressing the more ev­ery­day anx­i­eties of ado­les­cence and be­com­ing an adult. See­ing as much of I Gemini was writ­ten when they were only 13, surely they must have given some thought to their next al­bum? “Who knows, maybe,” notes Holling­worth with a raise of the eye­brow. Wal­ton leans her head in to­wards her friend’s tem­ple: “We might well be plot­ting now be­tween our brains, but we don’t speak about it.” Whether it’s by telepa­thy or more con­ven­tional means, what­ever Let’s Eat Grandma cook up next prom­ises to be in­ter­est­ing.

“PEO­PLE ARE LIKE, ‘THE GIRLS ARE POS­SESSED BY THE DEVIL!’” JENNY HOLLING­WORTH

Deep Six Text­book

Eat Shi­itake Mush­rooms/ Choco­late Sludge Cake

Ra­pun­zel

Cool And Col­lected

Don­nie Darko Sink Rosa Wal­ton, all smiles be­fore that tricky recorder solo. Let’s Eat Grandma’s Rosa Wal­ton (left) and Jenny Holling­worth: “gen­uinely un­set­tling.”

Er, OK… it’s Q’s round, is it?

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