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Let's Eat Grandma
I, Gemini Richard Balls , August 2nd, 2016 10:07

There is something unsettling but ultimately compulsive about this record. From the opening moments of ‘Deep Six Textbook’, you feel compelled to listen attentively and follow the whole oddball affair to its conclusion. Fragmented, childlike voices crisscross each other over spellbinding sounds that are soothing but not without darkness (think First Aid Kit meets The Shining). At times it’s entrancing, a kind of weird relaxation tape; at others, it’s the last thing you’d want to hear before going to bed, lest it gives you bad dreams.

Jenny Hollingworth and Rosa Walton met in the reception class of their local primary school in Norwich and have been inseparable ever since: they started making music together in 2013, initially doing their own versions of chart songs before lab-testing their own ideas and venturing out in public. They got their first break when they took part in the Norwich Sound & Vision Festival in 2014 and another musician saw their head-turning name on a poster, checked them out online and liked them. His manager subsequently took them on and they were eventually signed by Transgressive, the label for which they have produced an album hotwiring Goth ambience and punchy electro pop as if it’s just about the most obvious thing in the world.

Pretty much every instrument you’ve ever wanted to cast into the pits of hell is gainfully employed here and the dreaded recorder (‘London’s Burning’, anyone?) is gleefully reclaimed. Banned from the house by Walton’s mother when she was growing up, the instrument which traditionally has some folks diving for cover is given pride of place in ‘Chocolate Sludge Cake’. Frequently across this record it sounds like the mischievous pair have broken into the school music cupboard and are playing whatever first comes to hand. Of course, it doesn’t all come off: the somewhat grating ‘Chimpanzees in Canopies’ being a case in point. More often than not, however, their hotchpotch of instruments works to combine with surprising effect, threatening to win over even their greatest detractors.

‘Deep Six Textbook’ is an ambient masterpiece, the echoing drums and haunting keyboards as irresistible as the pull of the sea. You can imagine people lying on the floor of London’s old UFO Club spaced off their bonces to this back in the day, so somnambulistic is its effect.

‘Rapunzel’ also lingers long in the memory, dreamlike piano conjuring a Victorian children’s nursery, before building into a dark fairytale: “My cat is dead, my father hit me/I ran away, I’m really hungry” begins their modern-day horror. ‘Sleep Song’ is reminiscent of Tom Waits and ends with a chilling scream, its eerie undercurrent carrying over into ‘Welcome to the Treehouse Part 1’, leaving you half afraid to see what’s waiting for you at the top of the rope ladder.

But for all its sense of foreboding, I, Gemini is no gloomy affair. ‘Eat Shitake Mushrooms’ is a heady, clubby affair which takes in some rap along the way.

Their complementary voices chime in and out during the stomping pop of ‘Sax In The City’, due soon for release as a single. And if there’s still anyone who can’t see beneath the deadpan expressions to the tongue-in-cheek humour that runs through their songs, ‘Uke Six Textbook’ should ensure the message gets through.

Jeez, this is so feel-good it should be made available on prescription.