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Review: Gish – Alewife EP

Very little is known about Gish, the mysterious experimental project of southern NH-based singer/songwriter Jaclynn Manning. Her BandCamp page, where her music can be found contains no trace of a website, or even social media, as though her brand of spooky, enigmatic, ambient folk music exists as an anomaly. As though Gish, as a project, wasn’t so much formed as conjured in a glade someplace, from a circle made of ash surrounded by runestones.

An overexaggeration perhaps, but only until you’ve heard Manning‘s songs, which are far too sprawling and lush to be indie, and yet too haunting and eerie to be new age. Manning‘s debut EP as Gish; Endless Dream arrived earlier in the year, now followed up with a more recent second Alewife EP. (Whether that’s a reference to the historical profession of brewing ale for commercial sale or the Boston subway station is left vague.)

Alewife EP is a short experience, containing only four songs that clock in at a mere 11:36, but its a thoroughly remarkable and ethereal one, and in terms of sound a major change of pace from her earlier release. Where Endless Dream dabbled in layering levels and levels of synth-driven psychedelia atop Manning‘s siren-like vocals, (Which recalls some hybrid of Beth Gibbons of Portishead mixed with Enya) Alewife EP strips the lot of it away, her backing now consisting primarily of a harp and echoey reverberation.

The end result of Alewife EP is an fantastically enigmatic selection of songs. Songs that are minimalist, but still invokes spacious environments and atmospherics, and yet are anchored in a wondrous version of reality by Manning‘s vocals, which rouse equal feelings of introspection and loneliness. Anyone seeking the kind of high-energy, beat-heavy indie rock typical to Lowell’s music scene is in the wrong place, but for those in search of a moodier, contemplative, and supernatural musical experience, Gish‘s latest EP accomplishes exactly what it was summoned for.

For Fans Of: Portishead, Enya, Björk, Anohni
Key Track: “Eyes Beneath The Floor”

– Lee Martin