9th April | Trinity
We live in a time of constant notifications and breaking news, where the only thing that really breaks is the reminder to feel the most intense alertness at all times. This ever-present spectre of tension bleeds into pop music with a craving for insta-nostalgia and sugar-coated emotions.
The minimalist, electronic music of Tirzah is the ‘anti-pop’ of the current moment, taking our most primal and basic urges, love, hate, happiness, and apathetically twisting them, making it so we actually listen and feel the things that get drowned out in the noise of the world. It’s a rewarding challenge, taking the time to listen, but despite how her music makes you feel, you wonder if it’s intentional or a natural evocation from the music, this curiosity or reversal of self-awareness.
Supporting her latest record, Devotion, Tirzah stripped her sound back even further from the dance tracks of her EP, I’m Not Dancing. Continuing to work with her long-time producer, Mica Levi, Tirzah’s performance mirrored the record in presenting things as they are. When performing the opening track from Devotion, ‘Fine Again’, there was so much to think about in what was just a synth and her vocals, like whether or not the vocal hitches or synth glitches and pauses came from a brief anxiety in confessing the emotions to the song’s subject. Even on ‘Glady’, the most traditionally-structured song from the album, her presence was raw and unguarded as her loud, soft voice best encapsulated what makes her lyrics so fit for this moment, “I don’t want/To sound so serious/ But you are taking me away from all this hate.”
Tirzah’s performance played off syncopation, giving it an unsettled, free-form feeling, with lyrics that evoked ambiguity of an illicit relationship or the birth, turmoil and death of a natural one. Even the lighting during, ‘Do You Know’ pushed the feeling of being slightly off-beat. Like with a warm and comfortable sweater – you are never totally aware that it’s on or doing it’s job. It’s only when you realise there is a hole or an unraveling thread that you become hyper-aware of it, the imperfections pulling more and more at your mind. In Tirzah’s case, these threads were intentional and it was this duality of an appearance of apathy and care in details pulled you in deeper.
The clashing and build-up of earlier tracks sounded and felt less like a climax and more like a collapse, as the crowd was blinded by the flaring indigo stage lights, letting us see only Tirzah’s face, smiling and knowing. As her voice melted into the deep bass, making it almost indistinguishable from the vibrations of the speaker, sending it through our bodies, it then rose out of the beautifully composed sludge, unearthing our long-buried memories, flooding up through our brainstems, to the forefront of our minds.
A lot within a little space, stage, music, performance. Tirzah gave us the ability to do something that perhaps we’ve all spent too little time doing, singularly considering and enjoying something for a sustained period of time.
See the video for ‘Gladly’ here: