Published Nov 23, 2014For what was her final date of her tour, and also the final Divan Orange-hosted set at M For Montreal, UK experimental musician Elizabeth Bernholz, alias Gazelle Twin, made sure the performance would be remembered. Sporting her now famous blue-fleeced tracksuit, face-obscuring mask and long-flowing dark curly hair, Bernholz crept up on stage and crouched down, while her partner crouched over a simple drum pad, clad in a red hoodie. It made for an unsettling opening, but this is the captivating world explored on Gazelle Twin's recently released sophomore album, Unflesh.
Bernholz slowly crept up and started shouting "Coming at me, coming at me" from the album's title track while jumping side to side. Her performance was dark, entrancing and completely absorbing, while retaining a refreshing simplicity. She maintained her mysterious persona throughout, never breaking character, and the minimal interaction with the crowd felt warranted. She alternately pounced around the stage and then crouched down, using her pedal to manipulate her vocals, rocking back and forth using her voice as looped beats. Her long swaying wig was as much part of the performance as anything else, taking a life of its own. When she did acknowledge the audience, it was either face down or with her back to us, muttering a quiet "thank you, thank you for this."
Still, Bernholz is completely dedicated to the performance, using her powerful vocals for various effects. "This is our last song, last song on our tour," she suddenly announced in guttural fashion, turning her head away and crouching Gollum-like before launching into "Exorcise," during which she ironically performed tuck jumps, as if from an '80s exercise video. And just as suddenly as the performance started, Bernholz jumped off stage into the crowd and disappeared into the night. While it may be hard to define what exactly we had just experienced, everybody in attendance knew it was like nothing we'd seen before.