THE DANK, dystopian country that is Merrie England is being scried through a glass darkly by Gazelle Twin in shadowy conceit with the NYX electronic drone choir, who are kicking aside the collapsed slates of a realm that exists in our collective consciousness and revealing the rich, wriggling, sightless life scurrying underneath; a project they’ve taken from the stage to the long-player with Deep England, their album, out on March 19th; and from which they’ve today shared the eerie title track. You can listen below.
Back in November, we took a look at their infernally masterful retake on “Fire Leap”, from Paul Giovanni’s soundtrack to The Wicker Man, the song that plays as the virgins dance to Edward Woodward’s passing horror; a reversioning we noted as “distended to more than seven minutes, utterly faithful while still pursuing the dark, dank essence of the song deeper into the earth.”
At nearly nine minutes, “Deep England” is a discorporeal journey through an England you can maybe best sense in an unfrequented woods at dusk; the sheer layering of time, of lost and forgotten lives, of traditions steeped in moss and rot. NYX sing out over drones, a monkish ceremonial – should that be sabbatical? – motif.
There’s also a 45-second teaser here that reprises the live premiere from London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, slamming a short audio-visual reification into your retinas.
Elizabeth Bernholz, aka Gazelle Twin, explains: “The original version of ‘Deep England’ is a Ballardian meditation on the English rural in the 21st century.
“Sung in the style of a sacred or ritualistic chant over a deep choral drone, Sian O’Gorman’s [NYX] reworking transformed the piece into a vast choral lament that felt so amazing to perform. [It’s] one my favourite pieces on the whole album.”
Rooted in English pagan and sacred music, Deep England sees tracks from Gazelle Twin’s 2018 album Pastoral reworked for a dark chorale and presented alongside original compositions by NYX, Paul Giovanni and William Blake.
Lining up alongside Elizabeth and Sian, leader of NYX, are performers Adélaïde Pratoussy, Cecilia Forssberg, Natalie Sharp, Ruth Corey and Shireen Qureshi.
Gazelle Twin and NYX set out their manifesto thus: “Here lies our ancient future, Deep England: our hope and compassion in the chokehold of power and glory.
“Hand in hand, here we cry our rage: summoning a lament into the ether, a divine androgynous force, a transcendental purge of the dizzying chaos of post-truth Britain.”
Deep England was originally plotted for live performance in collaboration with NYX, the electronic drone choir created in 2017 by former creative director of London Contemporary Voices, Sian O’Gorman, and the former producers of Convergence Festival, Philippa Neels and Josh Thomas. It was premiered at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in November 2019, before being moved to the studio for further reification. Be warmly, deeply, ready for what’s next.
The project was supported by Arts Council England and Serious’ Giant Steps, a talent development scheme funded by Help Musicians UK, Arts Council England, and the Serious Trust.
Gazelle Twin and NYX’s Deep England will be available on NYX Collective Records on digital download, CD and vinyl on March 19th, but you may pre-order your copy now, here.