sat 15/06/2024

Gazelle Twin, Mirth, Marvel and Maud review - sardonic folk | reviews, news & interviews

Gazelle Twin, Mirth, Marvel and Maud review - sardonic folk

Gazelle Twin, Mirth, Marvel and Maud review - sardonic folk

Gorgeously anarchic music that preaches to the converted

Smile like it's not a rictus© Gazelle Twin

Elizabeth Bernholz, known on stage as Gazelle Twin, comes straight from a line of musical visionaries  rebels and misfits whose influences fleet through her songs like will-o’-the-wisps.

Here is the formal, clever ennui of The Stranglers, the wild, cathartic howls of Pink Floyd’s anti-establishmentarianism, and the unearthly arcs of Kate Bush’s otherworldly electro-folk. She chimes too with more contemporary outsiders: the sardonic flat-line of a knowing Metronomy, the spangled freneticism of MIA., Fever Ray’s bleak gut-swell propulsion, and hints of Björk’s operatic, overwhelming oeuvre. And then, just as quickly, these influences disappear, sink back to the marshy anger of her swampy satire or flame in a madcap crucible that combines, transforms and forges anew. 

At Mirth, Marvel and Maud she opens with the intense recorded sound of bees humming which resolves into a motorway sternum-vibrating thrum that whets into an anxious soundclash. This gives way to pied piper chants. Later, the hectic anger of "Hobby Horse" allows for a crowd swell followed by a multi-track reprieve of epically folk proportions. The crowd is very much hers, and very much of a type. But there's a fascinating ferocity for all the time she skips and snarls. 

Her previous album, 2014’s Unflesh, took on the casual violences and controls that could be exerted over people through their bodies  by others, themselves or circumstances. Miscarriage, dysmorphia, euthanasia featured. In Pastoral, her latest album, she drills into the sinister hypocrisy of the English countryside, slicing past the teas and church and cobbles  to a vivid history of humiliation, hypocrisy and oppression. It’s a line of medieval silencing that stretches right through to the present moment, just in more polite garb. The village square, after all, used to hold stocks. 

On stage, she takes on the character of the jester, the changeling fool who prances and derides, uttering epithets of snide irony sauced with contempt but couched with enough wit to guarantee a get-out. Her manic sporty imp costume is the crimson of blood  and the red tops. She’s impulsive and incites a congealing, ugly rage as well as the kind of sinister energy redolent of rave warehouse pessimism that provokes refrains such as "Shoot shoot shoot..." Combining consummate artistry and deep craft colliding with the bone and marrow of gutsy anarchy, her songs are high-art road kill taxidermy: they're not easy listening.

Succumb at your peril, is the message. The village is a symbol of dark and atavistic traditions; many more symbols exist: ignore or explore them as you choose. Hedonism and taunts let off steam. Nursery rhymes are brutally violent. Satire is rage made energetic and witty. Beneath pretty surfaces roil bigotry and blood and as our madcap guiding piper, she dances through this gory jest, jousting with the nation’s sicknesses and mocking the shivered Albion, whose vicious waifs do not even realise how lost they are in a desolation of their own devising. 

Her songs are high-art road kill taxidermy: they're not easy listening


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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