Album Reviews

Gazelle Twin – Mammal EP

on January 31, 2013, 12:00am
gazelle-twin C+
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It would be wrong to call Elizabeth Walling’s fascination with anatomy morbid. As Gazelle Twin, she engages with the human form not as a dead artifact but as a living, functioning apparatus. While her 2011 debut The Entire City rendered a dilapidated future metropolis, her sophomore release dives into more intimate territory: the impalpable relationship between mind and body.

Among its one cover, two originals, and three remixes, the Mammal EP comprises the same materials that built The Entire City: imperial beats, spidery pads, and Walling’s ivory vox. Her lyrics tackle the paradox of corporeality: “This is my heart / It will drift away,” she sings on “This Is My Hand” — not to bemoan mortality, but simply to wonder at the sensation of occupying a body that ultimately feels separate from the self. Lyrically, nothing better summarizes the tensions that simmer on Mammal than a line from Gazelle Twin’s take on Wire’s “Heartbeat”: ”I am mesmerized by my own beat.”

Of the EP’s remixes, composer Clint Mansell’s reworking of “This Is My Hand” emerges as the clear highlight. Slight percussive gasps mingle with minimal bass in a slow and eerie forward march. The mixes on side B drift sequentially away from Gazelle Twin’s delicate balance of organic and synthetic textures into deeper dance terrain. The final track, Alixander II’s mix of “I Turn My Arm”, seems alien to the world established by the A side–and at seven minutes, its inclusion is more bloat than complement.

Mammal draws power from the space between chilly synthetic soundscapes and Walling’s lush, ethereal soprano. Unlike her closest genre peer Fever Ray, Gazelle Twin doesn’t disfigure her voice with layered effects. By letting her vocals remain naked, pure, and human, Walling elevates her gloomy beatwork from goth-pop into a sphere closer to the intersection of classical and industrial best forged by Björk. As both her releases demonstrate, Walling is yet another powerful producer to watch from across the pond.

Essential Tracks: “This Is My Hand”, “Heartbeat”

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