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“I’m reeling, I’m restless,” sing Deep Throat Choir from the heart of their second album. That restlessness manifests in a set of tremendously abundant, original songs from the east London female and non-binary vocal collective, founded by Landshapes member Luisa Gerstein. Set to be released via Bella Union on December 3rd, In Order to Know You is a multi-layered assertion of freshly expansive range, driven by two core virtues: a sense of strength in unity and an open embrace of its singers’ personal experiences, shared through collective, supportive vocal expression.

 

To celebrate the announcement, the band shared a brilliantly unique video to first single ‘Alchemilla’. Directed by Nina Ryner, with an aesthetic inspired by 90’s tarot and psychic call-in shows, the choir members are reimagined as arcana from the deck, offering gentle guidance via The Tarot Priestess, Suhaiyla Shakuwwra.

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After 2017’s largely covers-based debut album, Be OK, the choir recognised the call to evolve. “Having been singing together for five-plus years, and having released an album of mostly covers, it felt like the logical next step to make our own music together,” says Gerstein. “This album is the alchemy of all the specific voices and players that make up the choir, and a collaborative process of writing and sharing music and ideas. Sonically, I wanted to move beyond just voices and percussion, to see what richness could be brought with instruments and electronics, and to transition from a choir that does covers to a band with loads of vocalists.”

 

The rewards of that leap are immediately evident on first single ‘Alchemilla’, named after the herbaceous perennial. A testimony to the strength in vulnerability, it celebrates an openness to emotion across buoyant harmonies that “ebb and flow” like cool waves. With words by Heloise Tunstall-Behrens, Alice Freedman, and Holly Turnbull, the song emerged from a jamming session in Margate and a conversation about masculinity.

For Deep Throat Choir, In Order to Know You is both a culmination of journeys taken so far and a lustrous springboard for further adventures. Their travels began in 2013 when the collective took shape from a desire to strip music back to the basic elements of raw voices and drums, united in a fashion that both honours and transmogrifies personal expression. A small group of four or five singers steadily expanded, with Zara Toppin’s drums providing a propulsive energy. Cathartic live shows and collaborations followed, ranging from team-ups with Peggy Sue, Stealing Sheep, Horse Meat Disco, and Matthew E White to performances at Green Man, Wilderness, the Southbank Centre’s WOW festival, London’s Scala and beyond. A fruitful collaboration with techno-pop duo Simian Mobile Disco on the 2018 album Murmurations followed: a testament to the choir’s alchemical abilities.

 

At a residency at the Prah Foundation, Margate, seeds were sown for the new songs. An increased confidence bloomed as the band pushed at its boundaries, an evolution aided by engineer Andy Ramsey and the vast range of the contributors’ musical talents. Emerging organically, the songs reflect the experiences and worlds of the singers who contributed to the writing process. Alongside soloists Tanya Auclair, Liv Stones, Holly Holden, Elly Condron, Miryam Solomon, Fikir Assefa, Maddie Rix, Rosa Slade, Heloise Tunstall-Behrens, Fran Lobo and Gerstein, new contributors included brass players Marcus Hamblett and Emma Gatrill, plus pianist Sam Beste. From within the choir, Kate Burn played cello, Sarah Anderson played violin/viola, Tunstall-Behrens played bass and Auclair contributed synth parts. Recording took place before lockdown; Gerstein produced, while Jimmy Robertson (Anna Calvi, Peggy Sue) mixed the record.

 

The album title reflects that drive towards a kind of questing togetherness. “We made this music in order to know and understand each other more fully,” says Gerstein, “and that’s what music is in general. We’re saying it to each other, and to the listener.”

 

Deep Throat Choir have two upcoming UK live appearances – on August 22nd, they will perform at Green Man Festival in the Brecon Beacons, Wales while on September 15th, London’s St Pancras Old Church will welcome the group (tickets).

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