Romanticism and the notion of Englishness are at the heart of the Pastoral music of the likes of Vaughan Williams and Elgar. Whilst Gazelle Twin's music exists in a totally world to Lark Ascending or Pomp And Circumstance (for example), it's probably about time that someone took the time to assess just where we are as a nation. The cover of Pastoral alludes to the album artwork that graces the Deutsche Grammophon classical releases, suggesting that there are big themes to be tackled in a most serious manner, but also that traditions are fair game for Gazelle Twin.
Her 2011 debut The Entire City gained plaudits for its bold style and avant-garde ambition. Pastoral looks set to further underline those credentials. This is an album which nails its uncompromising colours to the mast from the off, opening with a twisted, stretched-tape sound-scape over which Bernholz implores us to answer: "What species is this? / What century?" Straight into track two and we hear "much better in my day," repeated as a high-speed mantra over a low-fi drum ‛n bass rattle.
In Kingdom Come, the final novel by the late British sci-fi author JG Ballard, the London suburbs fall under the spell of fascism. This isn't the old-school fascism--born from the street, or the ballot box--but the product from a new and unexpected source: that cathedral to consumerism, the shopping mall. On its release in 2006, Kingdom Come felt somewhat fanciful.
England is heading into a future that resembles a vast, drab and malfunctioning Westworld-style amusement park run by G4S in brand synergy partnership with Home Bargains, Wetherspoons and Sky News. Our cultural algorithms are infected with bugs and fascist malware, as the cricket lawns, warm beer and invincible green suburbs are overrun by fascist Border Patrol snatch squads and Stella-fuelled EDL hunter-killer swarms. The countryside has become a Nuts in May Beyond Thunderdome hellscape as middle-class hordes, fleeing falling property prices, coalesce into feral tribes defending their second homes and stocks of Waitrose-brand quinoa against YouTube drill crews while morris dancers hunt Polish migrant workers for sport at the behest of demagogues wearing Jacob Rees-Mogg and Kirstie Allsopp masks.