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Gazelle Twin

As Gazelle Twin, producer, composer, and visual artist Elizabeth Bernholz explores 21st century dystopia with uncompromising electronic music and striking imagery. Her 2011 debut album, The Entire City, transformed layers of murky loops and her classically trained vocals into a haunted metropolis of sounds and memories. On 2014's visceral Unflesh, she emphasized the industrial leanings of her music as well as the importance of costumes in her visual presentation (to personify the discomfort in the music, she wore her old school gym uniform on the album cover). She linked sound and vision even more closely on 2018's Pastoral, an unflinching depiction of the intolerance lurking within English culture that blended the traditional (English folk music and garb) with the contemporary (assaultive electronics and sneakers), and with the eerie evocations of lingering trauma on 2023's Black Dog. The innate theatricality of Gazelle Twin's work made Bernholz a natural for productions like her 2016 stage adaptation of J.G. Ballard's novel Kingdom Come and for score and soundtrack work like 2021's The Power. Though Gazelle Twin's personas and concepts change continually, Bernholz's commitment to unnerving and challenging her listeners is a constant of her work. Bernholz studied music at the University of Sussex, intending to become a composer. After graduating in 2006, she realized she also wanted to perform as well as write music, and began playing shows live. However, performing on-stage as herself didn't make the impact that she wanted; when she saw Fever Ray perform at Brighton, England's Loop Festival in 2009, Bernholz knew that she had to incorporate the transformative power of costumes into her own work. Gazelle Twin's debut single, "Changelings," appeared in 2010 on Something Nothing Records. Two more singles, "Men Like Gods" and "I Am Shell I Am Bone," followed on her collective's label Anti-Ghost Moon Ray in 2011 before the July release of her debut full-length, The Entire City. Named for a painting by surrealist artist Max Ernst -- whose birdlike character Loplop was another major influence on Bernholz's costumes -- the album's warped electronic pieces depicted the overlap of places and memories. The Entire City received strong reviews, as did 2012's The Entire City Remixed. The following January saw the release of the Mammal EP, which featured a Wire cover, a pair of new songs, and remixes by Clint Mansell and Kuedo. For Gazelle Twin's next album, Bernholz drew on different strands of body horror ranging from miscarriage to body dysmorphia, European colonization, and her study of medicine as well as the synth sounds of John Carpenter and Iggy Pop's Berlin period. Recorded at her home studio and co-produced and mixed by Wrangler's Benge, September 2014's raw Unflesh featured Bernholz wearing her school gym uniform on the cover as an embodiment of the album's uncomfortable themes, and she once again won critical acclaim. Bernholz expanded on the album with the short film Out of Body, a 2015 collaboration with animator/filmmaker Carla McKinnon commissioned by the London Short Film Festival. She then created another commissioned work, Kingdom Come, for the Future Everything Festival. A multimedia stage experience based on 2006 J.G. Ballard's novel about everyday fascism, it featured performances by Stuart Warwick, Lone Taxidermist's Natalie Sharp, and Bernholz's husband (and live Gazelle Twin member) Jez Bernholz and premiered in March 2016. That month, Gazelle Twin also released the soundtrack to Out of Body; that July, the Unflesh remix collection Fleshed Out offered reworkings by acts including Blanck Mass, Dave Clarke, Perc, and Wrangler. In November 2017, a studio recording of Kingdom Come arrived, but by that time, Bernholz was deep into the creation of her next project. Inspired by the ideas in Kingdom Come, as well as the political climate in the U.K. and Europe, her family's move to the countryside, and her postpartum depression, she explored the ways evil hides behind quaint customs by juxtaposing folk music with frantic electronics and pitch-shifted vocals. The results were September 2018's acclaimed Pastoral, an album whose cover depicted Bernholz as a grinning figure dressed in garb that mixed traditional English folk-dancing gear with trainers favored by football hooligans. As with Gazelle Twin's other albums, Bernholz expanded on Pastoral's world; in 2019, she was joined by the drone choir NYX in a drastically different performance of the record's songs at the London Jazz Festival. That year, she also released two stand-alone singles, "Dirge MMXVIII" and "Fool." In December 2020, Bernholz's score for Welcome to the Blumhouse: Nocturne appeared, as did "History," her contribution to the soundtrack to the video game Cyberpunk 2077. Deep England, a studio version of her collaboration with NYX, came out in March 2021 and was soon joined by her work with composer Max De Wardener on the score for the feminist horror film The Power, her first release on Invada. July 2023 saw the arrival of the score for the TV series Then You Run, which echoed the sounds of Unflesh. That October, Bernholz returned with the first Gazelle Twin album in five years. Sparked by memories of a shadowy figure she saw as a girl, Black Dog's taut, atmospheric pieces fused childhood terror with parental fears.
© Heather Phares /TiVo


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