Record Review: Gazelle Twin / I Speak Machine – Exponentialism

Metamatic | UK | CD | 2013 | META34CD

Metamatic | UK | CD | 2013 | META34CD

Gazelle Twin / I Speak Machine: Exponentialism UK CD [2013]

  1. I Speak Machine • My Sex
  2. I Speak Machine • I Want To Be  A Machine
  3. Gazelle Twin • Never Let Me Go
  4. Gazelle Twin • He’s  A Liquid

Here’s a fascinating EP that was released just last Friday. It’s been pressed in a limited edition of 750 for sale in the Foxx web store, but if you’re lucky enough to see the band live, they might have them on the merch table. On it, two artists associated with John Foxx + The Maths perform versions of songs written by John Foxx. As I have all of the Maths’ releases, I’ve heard their mixes of Maths tracks on “Evidence” and “The Shape Of Things.” These women have similarities only in their soprano voices and good taste. That, and of course, Foxx thinks highly of their work enough to ask them to tour with The Maths as support acts.

Tara Busch I’ve had the good fortune to see live at Moogfest two years ago. My friend Charles and I were struck by what I called her “Star Trek” vocal style. Fans of the original series will know what I’m talking about. Suffice to say, her singing on the expression vocals from the classic theme would be a match made in heaven. Her affinity for classic analog synths marked her as a formidable contender on both vocal and instrumental fronts. On this EP she draws all the way back to songs from the first album Foxx recorded, back in 1976.

What she’s done with the seminal “My Sex” is fairly astonishing. Amid the squelches and buzzes of the intro her wailing vocals with their attendant hint of madness add a decidedly different take on the song. Her expression vocals are a tad over the top, thank goodness. Far from the nembutol vibe of the original, this is a fiery, explosive mix of desire and detachment. This is about excess. Her phrasing is captivatingly off meter from Foxx’s delivery for maximum divergence from the master mold. The throbbing, whipcrack beats suggest the EBM of Nitzer Ebb recast in the shape of a succubus. I love how she emphasizes the line “my sex, is often solo” with the reverb on “solo” adding the ambiguity of “so low” to the listener’s ear. This track is simply reason enough to buy this EP. You may want to head to Ms. Busch’s Analog Suicide website and view the music video she’s shot with partner Maf Lewis.

Her cover of the other classic from “Ultravox!” couldn’t be any more different. The intro section of the song is delicate and demure, like something Kate Bush might have sung, yet it’s rife with underlying glitch elements that are miles from where Kate dwells. Ms. Busch has substantially changed the arrangement here to trim the song by over a third of its length. She’s chosen to excise Billy Currie’s famous violin solo as the song’s coda instead calcifies into the death rhythms of a respirator, adding a dark new interpretation to the song.

I’m less conversant with Gazelle twin, but her 2011 album “The Entire City” was a Ballardian electro-ethereal song cycle that was among Foxx’s favorites of that year. That’s endorsement enough for me. If I ever get more pocket change, I need to purchase a copy. In 2011, Gazelle Twin had this to say about “Never Let Me Go.”

“’Never Let Me Go’ is a mirage of maternal comfort in a toxic and unrelenting world. It’s one of those songs I wish I’d made; drenched analogue pulses and drones, a lullaby-like synth melody accompanying an android (yet emotional) dual-vocal part. I can definitely feel a cover coming on.”

I’m always excited when an artist says they are going to do something then actually manages to achieve their goals! “Never Let Me Go” here is even more heartbreaking with her expression vocals given doses of limitless reverb in a soundfield that at first includes close miked vocals doubled in split octaves with birdsong intruding on the periphery before the ambience transforms mid-song into a more abstract, operatic  context. It’s a chilling, yet gossamer construction that takes the song into her territory most effectively, while also referencing Foxx’s ambient, Cathedral Oceans side.

The final track here is a somewhat faithful version of “He’s A Liquid” from “Metamatic.” The music bed is close enough to the original to almost sound like a remix, but her vocals would never be mistaken for those of Foxx!  The vocal sound is again close miked, but with perhaps some noise gating added for dissonant effect. The effect of this final cover is almost a way to guide the listener back into the more familiar Foxx-space they may be used to inhabiting after this journey into less familiar territory.

It’s exciting to hear female artists offering their take on the idiosyncratic music of Foxx, since there was so little in the way of conventional femininity in the original recordings. The master of cold wave would seemingly have little to offer to the typical XX listeners, but these women are anything but typical. Here’s hoping that other artists hear these interpretations and are compelled to have a crack at more of Foxx’s formidable catalog of the last 37 years. But in researching this post, I found that a handful of artists had actually covered Foxx earlier, and the first woman to do this was someone who covered one of his songs back in 1984. In fact, she was the first person to ever cover Foxx. Who was she, and what was the song?

High-Fashion Music | BEN | LP | 1984 | 88101

High-Fashion Music | BEN | LP | 1984 | 88101

Amii Stewart: Try Love BENELUX LP [1984]

  1. That Loving Feeling
  2. Try Love
  3. Dangerous Rhythm
  4. Losing Control
  5. Friends
  6. I Gotta Have You Back
  7. High Dimension
  8. Fever Line
  9. Dance Till You Get Enough
  10. Mother Mary

You might want to head over to the iTunes store and prepare to be amazed!

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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5 Responses to Record Review: Gazelle Twin / I Speak Machine – Exponentialism

  1. Echorich says:

    Must have. As for Amii Stewart I have the record and it is a very viable reading of the track. If anything it plays down the reggae beat and plays up a funkier rhythm to positive affect to these ears.


  2. ronkanefiles says:

    Isn’t Amii Stewart the “Knock On Wood” singer?


    • postpunkmonk says:

      ronkanefiles – Uh, yeah! One and the same. Couldn’t you tell from the LP cover? Her version downplays the reggae elements of the song that never sat well with me. I blame Island for that! I’m in total agreement with Echorich. It’s a pretty good cover. Great vocals. Who knew??!


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