Gazelle Twin & NYX - Deep England
Mar 19, 2021
Gazelle Twin's collaboration with choral drone choir NYX is an album centered around drama. Largely a reworking of Gazelle Twin's eclectic electronic album Pastoral from 2018, Deep England is so far removed from the style of that original work that you'd be forgiven for completely missing that fact. Even if the approach to these songs is vastly different from the original, the songs still maintain and even heighten the anxiety and theatrics of Pastoral. If Gazelle Twin's character on Pastoral is some jester-like fairy bringing a dark omen, Deep England is the doom we were warned of.

Outside of the middle point, Better In My Day, deep England is a collection of traditional choir songs that create a ritualistic sensation all surrounded in chilling electronics, buzzing drones, and orchestral elements. The opening song Glory begins with church bells that bleed into ancient Middle Earth-esque flutes sitting on top of an unchanging drone, eventually leading to a powerful and focused performance of vocals once distorted and digitized with electronics. Folly is an absolute musical nightmare, like a river of forgotten souls calling out for you to swim in the depths of their sadness that become louder and more forceful the more you resist. Fire Leap, a performance of folk horror film The Wicker Man (and not the Nicholas Cage one) becomes larger and more harrowing the farther you progress, almost solely focused on the woodwind performance.

Better In My Day breaks things up in a strange, fascinating way as the once electronic and glitchy song is reworked with vocal tics and grunts, only heightening the ritualistic themes of Deep England broadly. This song likely holds the most similarities to the original, but a song once almost playful becomes nothing but sinister on this album.

Throne and Jerusalem return to the pattern of droning choral performances, each of which are so warped and pronounced that the original songs feel like nothing but distant memories. The final tracks, Deep England and Golden Dawn, are original compositions that perfectly suit the traditional paganism performance of the rest of the album. Deep England is first focused on a repeating Gregorian chant reworked with additional electronics, eventually building into new layers of vocals that are met with even louder drones that become heavier and heavier until becoming impossible to carry, resonating so loudly that they nearly overcome you before the track ends in most distorted vocals. Golden Dawn immediately revels in the chilling nature of what Deep England crafts with eerie tones and, you guessed it, even more building drones. As the vocals come in, a grandiose and operatic voice so deep it feels like a ghost, the song feels like an emphatic end to the ritual as it gently fades to silence.

To compare Pastoral and Deep England would completely miss everything accomplished through this reimagining. The five previous works are almost unrecognizable unless you were deeply familiar with the tonality and lyricism on those tracks, elements that are easy to fade when so many electronic distractions take center stage. The addition of Fire Leap and the two original compositions make Deep England only an opportunity to reexplore the themes of England being set in their ways and struggling to escape their past, here so focal that the only answer was returning to a traditional past sonically. Deep England maintains that sense of urgency and dread that Pastoral elicits, but here it becomes one of the most haunting and grand statements one could imagine in modern music.

Favorite track: Deep England
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