Gazelle Twin – The Entire City

written by: August 10, 2011
Release Date: August 15, 2011


The crawling, lilting terror and wonder to The Entire City is inimitable. Solo artist Elizabeth Walling immerses herself so entirely in performance that it manages to transcend archetypal “costume art-rock” that’s been performed for years by groups such as Fever Ray and Planningtorock. This is not a work that buries itself in a neo-gothic caricature of itself—what’s remarkable about Gazelle Twin’s music is that it’s widely approachable with well-crafted melody, dramatic arch and braggadocio to boot.

The album cover art seems to question the place of man in nature yet actually reveals an urban world of monotony, futility and shadow—distilled perfectly in the empty space and hard steel of “Concrete Mother,” all the forlornness and terror of the work comes through choral. The Entire City borrows its title from a series of paintings by surrealist Max Ernst, a self-confessed influence of Walling’s, though she’s been careful to discern between inspiration and imitation. In any case, the Gazelle Twin’s sound incants a dreamscape of surrealist proportions.

Walling, in performance and recordings, is able to disembody her voice from her identity. The result is a dark, lingering yet ethereally beautiful sound. Though in concept she may be an androgynous, nameless persona, with the aid of vocoders and processing, there is something eerily human to her singing. Not to mention when she does shut off all the electronic aid, as on the single “Changelings,” her vocals shine through exactingly—she is an incredibly talented singer and her desire is unmistakable.

Gazelle Twin’s spooky charm ably navigates the labyrinthine tracklist. From “Men Like Gods,” with its adroit electronic drum work and dissonant, ancient harmonies to “I Am Shell I Am Bone,” with its looping echoes and ghosted. Winding and nightmarish at times, The Entire City does have a unified aesthetic and clearly planned structure.

From its cinematic opening with howling winds to the sound of a bell tower, Walling moves through each segment, constantly evolving her character from paranoid outsider into a strangely fetishized monster, conqueror of the city ruined by its spoils.

Listeners should be prepared—The Entire City is a cinematically immersive experience; nothing feels “fun” or glossed over, every dark edge is perused and felt. Each arrangement hints at this spine-tingling dream-world. There are pages out of Paul Auster, Max Ernst, Prince (check her cover of “I Wonder U”) and of course, Fever Ray. Art rock it is but Art Rock that’s informed, accessible and infectious. Walling herself told The Quietus, “Art and pop practically come from the same place. Both are prone to moments of loftiness just as easily as they are to spouting utter bullshit.” The Entire City is grounded in ritual, performance and imagination—but you don’t need to see Gazelle Twin live to feel that.

Gazelle Twin – The Entire City

  1. “The Entire City”
  2. “Concrete Mother”
  3. “Men Like Gods”
  4. “I Am Shell I Am Bone”
  5. “Far From Home”
  6. “Changelings”
  7. “Bell Tower”
  8. “When I Was Otherwise”
  9. “Obelisk”
  10. “Nest”
  11. “Fight-Or-Flight”
  12. “View Of A Mountain”