Inventive blends of chamber and electronic music.
After becoming disenchanted by electronic music several years ago, Gainsborough immersed themself in the classical world. "At some point, I realised I had faded away from much of the music I used to identify with," they told Dazed. "When I started getting deeply into classical and chamber music, I let out a big sigh of relief, like, finally. This is the language I've been looking for." The incorporation of classical into electronic music is nothing new. Artists as diverse as Actress, Aphex Twin, Carl Craig and Mica Levi have all melded these elements in various ways. Gainsborough's approach stands out. They didn't just invite orchestral instrumentation into their dance party, but built a sonic world fully informed by classical music, harnessing electronic techniques to create a sound unique to them.
Queen Of Golden Dogs is a striking fusion of chamber music and blasted-out electronica, which sometimes resembles a kind of medieval rave music. The results are often playful, though far from an easy listen. The mood is often intense and anarchic. "Argo (For Maggie)" is all sword-fighting synths and soaring melody. "Fantasma (For Jasmine)" opens with mournful strings before an overdriven synth line and drum beat assume aggressive positions. It segues right into the serene "Good Animal (For Hannah)," where vocals and synths weave in and out of each other in harmonic bliss.
The LP references the duality of human nature in a few ways. "Torno-me Eles E Nau-e (For Remedios)" turns a Fernando Pessoa poem, "I don't know how many souls I have," into a tender choral piece. The LP's sleeve by Remedios Varo depicts a woman pulling yarn from inside a silhouette-like character's chest, which opens into a hallway with two birds flying out. In Jungian psychology, "the shadow" is often symbolic of the unconscious, or dark side, of our personalities. (There is also a nod to Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts, a book centred on gender theory and love.) Musically, the album is also a constant struggle between polarised emotions—take the cacophony of anxiety and ecstasy in "Argo (For Maggie)," or the dread-fused elation in "Sand Tar Man Star (For Aurellia)."
Despite the LP's emotional intensity, there is some hope in all the discord. "Paplu Love That Moves The Sun," for example, is a life-affirming baroque trance anthem. In contrast to the murky landscapes of Gainsborough's past LPs, Queen Of Golden Dogs is filled with celestial highs and fragile introspection. "Zahir (For Eleanor)" and "Good Animal (For Hannah)" make transcendent use of vocals. (The composer György Ligeti and Jóhann Jóhannsson's otherworldly score for Arrival sometimes come to mind.) What's most impressive, though, is Gainsborough's commitment to integrating classical music on Queen Of Golden Dogs. The results, far from being grandiose, are rough, eloquent and compassionate.
Wed / 19 Dec 2018
01. Fantasma (For Jasmine)
02. Good Animal (For Hannah)
03. Argo (For Maggie)
04. Zahir (For Eleanor)
05. Arcanum (For Christalla)
06. Glory Glory (For Tippi)
07. Torno-me Eles E Nau-e (For Remedios)
08. Paplu Love That Moves The Sun
09. Sand Tar Man Star (For Aurellia)