“It’s part Mor­ris dancer, part de­mon”

Wel­come to the “fraught and noisy and weird” world of Gazelle Twin, creator of one of 2018's most timely al­bums

UNCUT - - Instant Karma! - LOUIS PAT­TI­SON

“Look closer at the her­itage and it’s steeped in in­jus­tice and mur­der” EL­IZ­A­BETH BERNHOLZ

It’s the job of the artist to speak to the times in which we live, and few al­bums have cap­tured how it feels to live in the UK in 2018 quite like Gazelle twin’s Pas­toral. On it, El­iz­a­beth Bernholz uses brit­tle elec­tron­ics and ef­fects-twisted vo­cals to draw a night­mar­ish car­i­ca­ture of Eng­land, rais­ing par­al­lels be­tween our na­tion’s tur­bu­lent his­tory and the poverty and divi­sion of the present day. “It is quite an ex­treme LP,” ac­knowl­edges Bernholz. “It’s fraught and noisy and weird. But I’ve been pleas­antly sur­prised by the re­cep­tion. Peo­ple have picked up on the Brexit thing, which wasn’t the main drive. But due to the tim­ing… it’s a hot topic.”

In fact, Pas­toral – her third al­bum as Gazelle twin – was pre­cip­i­tated by per­sonal events: the birth of her son, and her re­lo­ca­tion from Brighton to the ru­ral West Mid­lands. “My life was trans­formed, and I felt vul­ner­a­ble and anx­ious,” she says. “And that fused with this chang­ing, slightly dark­en­ing world.”

“Cat­tle cat­tle/Tea rooms and road­kill/I don’t know what I’m do­ing here,” she keens on “tea Rooms”, while “Dance Of the Ped­dlers” is an un­set­tling blend of boom­ing bass and me­dieval pipes, with a lyric that hops across cen­turies – from Blake to me­dieval tor­ture to the phone­hack­ing scan­dal. “We pre­serve as­pects of our his­tory that make us feel safe or happy, as if we’ve earned some­thing,” says Bernholz. “But look closer at that her­itage, which is driv­ing this cur­rent surge of na­tion­al­ism, and most of this is pretty awful – steeped in in­jus­tice and mur­der and blood.”

Gazelle twin’s last LP, 2014’s Un­flesh, ex­plored a Cro­nen­ber­gish body hor­ror, ad­dress­ing themes like mis­car­riage and eu­thana­sia. It saw Bernholz tak­ing to the stage in a blue track­suit, face ob­scured by a stock­ing – a night­mare vi­sion of the school chang­ing room. On Pas­toral, where the dark­ness is bal­anced with a mis­chievous, an­tic qual­ity, she alighted on the fig­ure we see in the video to “Hobby Horse” – a scary jester, coloured the same blood-red as the st Ge­orge’s Cross. “I was re­search­ing ru­ral courts, and I kept see­ing pic­tures of jesters… but I wanted to in­clude con­tem­po­rary tropes, so it’s part foot­ball hooli­gan, part jester, part Mor­ris dancer, part de­mon.” Live, Bernholz per­forms with her hus­band Jez, who han­dles most of the mu­sic, al­low­ing her to in­habit the char­ac­ter: “I get ag­gres­sive and quite caught up with it, which I love. I feel a real buzz.”

Gazelle twin will close 2018 with two unique con­certs – a show at som­er­set House, ap­pro­pri­ately a con­verted tu­dor palace by the thames; and a per­for­mance with NYX, an allfe­male elec­tronic drone choir who will be adapt­ing some Gazelle twin songs. Be­yond that, Bernholz is won­der­ing where Gazelle twin might go next. “It’s been a re­lent­less five years of angsty, noisy, scary work. While that’s part of my per­son­al­ity, there’s scope to make some­thing pret­tier, more hope­ful. I haven’t got a clue what it might be, though. I may just have to keep go­ing with the doom.”

Gazelle Twin play Lon­don’s Som­er­set House, Nov 16 and – with NYX – The Pickle Fac­tory, Lon­don, Dec 9

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