With her unsettlingly excellent second album Unflesh confirming her debut The Entire City was no one off, and ahead of her headline show at London’s Electrowerkz this week, Gazelle Twin – aka Elizabeth Bernholz – sets out the albums and scores which, and artists who, have influenced her most for her This Music Made Me…
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what aspects of music formed the foundation for what I create now – I do think it always changes over time. Creative or not, I think we humans absorb everything around us, and it finds an expression in some form or another, usually without us being aware of it at all.
Anyway, here I have chosen pieces of music or composers who really had a strong hold on me during my teens and early twenties, when music was a growing obsession and definitely a lifeline.
I could go as far as saying that this was the first electronic/synth-based music that really took hold of me in a big way and has really never left me since as a production influence.
I seem to always set out to recreate those things from childhood that formed certain types of memories and feelings, and this combination of industrial sounds with emotional chords is something I seem to seek out in most things, musically and otherwise.
There hasn’t been a film score like it since, except maybe in the work of Clint Mansell.
The first encounter with Bulgarian Folk music sung by this choir, was bizarrely through James Horner who pinched a melody for his soundtrack to Willow in the 1980s.
I can’t remember exactly how I encountered the choir after this, whether it was a coincidence or through my own investigation, but either way, I was hooked on the extraordinary harmonies, and singing style, which never ceases to amaze me. It also makes you smile, unlike a lot of the other music I have chosen here…
To watch these women perform in person, is something else.
During my early days at University I was exposed to a lot of early 20th Century Music including this piece.
The circumstances under which it was written dictate the quartet’s unusual orchestration – Messiaen wrote it as a POW in a concentration camp. Several of his inmates were also musicians, and despite all the atrocity going on around them, they were allowed to continue to make music, namely in order to entertain the camp. As music written to endure and simultaneously express trauma, it is an extraordinary thing to hear.
It creates a visual image – another world where all logic has taken flight.
There’s no shame in liking Clannad. I try to tell people this all the time.
I absolutely loved their early albums, with that weird mix of very earnest, celtic folk and analogue synths. I also loved the fact that they did so many soundtracks.
There’s some gold to be found in stuff like this:
Before I studied music properly, and during my degree, I spent an awful lot of time listening to religious music.
I don’t think it’s necessary to be religious, nor believe in the meaning of the words in order to appreciate things like the Vespers, choral music reaches a place that goes beyond language and symbolism anyway.
As it happens, I would argue the same point for a lot of pop music. Choral music still pretty much is the foundation of nearly all my vocal writing. Anyway, this is sublime. The harmonies are to die for.
Regardless of the religious intentions , listening to his piece of music used to make me hallucinate some pretty incredible things. It was my choice of legal high in my late teens.
I could travel through a black hole (a nice one) and feel like everything in this great void had a purpose and beauty that was unquestionable – you can almost describe this as a sexual experience – religious ecstasy is never very far from sexual ecstasy in my opinion – and for the record I think MOST music is sexual in some way – this, for example, has a slow repetitive build, and a devastating climax.
They probably wouldn’t win the Mercury Prize now, would they? But boy were Portishead a teenaged lifeline for me back in the mid ’90s.
I absorbed everything about their music. Really soaked up the elements into my bones, and the very first electronic “songs” I wrote around the age of 15/16 were basically just a version of this.
Beth Gibbons’ voice has always been one of few that helped shaped my own. Only You is one of my favourites from all their early releases – and it had this superb video by Chris Cunningham.
Franz Schubert – Der Doppelganger
This was one of the first pieces of music that had a real sort of thematic/symbolic draw for me.
It’s based on a poem by Heinrich Heine, this old tale that if you see your own double, then death is near. Schubert died the same year he wrote it.
I think it’s an extraordinary concept, extremely eerie, just like this piece.
It’s a shame that certain pieces of classical music have become almost so jaded in people’s minds that they seem too clichéd or predictable to approach. It’s an even greater shame that so many young people grow up completely under-exposed to any classical music in any shape or form, whether through education, their immediate cultural surroundings or normally through their class.
And that said, it’s very hard to get into it this sort of thing without being sort of intravenously introduced to it, so that it sort of creates its own pathways devoid of association. I was lucky to had this sort of thing playing into my ears since birth. But to approach it now, is probably to wade through a lot of classist, culturally high brow bullshit.
Anyway. This piece takes on the whole universe and you have no choice but to let it take you with it. The result is multiple orgasms, weeping, screaming and a LOT of air punching. I don’t understand anyone who doesn’t want to leap out of their seat on that first movement.
He was the sort of Dracula figure of the composing world… His extraordinary music is surrounded by horrific, violent stories of psychopathic jealousy, revenge murder and the occult.
But given how some of his choral music was written, from this place of total madness, is OK with me. It makes for some really bizarre music (for its time).
Herzog made a very strange and great film about Gesualdo, and it’s worth a watch, as well as a dedicated listen.