‘Life And Death – The Five Chandeliers Of The Funereal Exorcisms’ pulls back the veil unto a nocturnal scene populated by shadows, embers burning coldly in the underworld. Marina Zispin is your guide, siren and protector both. Marina Zispin is the negative space between musicians Bianca Scout and Martyn Reid.
Life And Death… is the duo’s debut release, five chandeliers of melancholic, vibrant synth pop twinkling in the inky blackness. Both originally hailing from the North East of England and forming a musical partnership before lockdown, Bianca Scout and Martyn Reid initially worked remotely. Having relocated to South London and Newcastle respectively, Marina Zispin was born in earnest after the duo could begin writing and practising in the same space. Bianca Scout is a celebrated musician and dancer with a number of solo and collaborative works in her discography while Martyn Reid is a mainstay of the UK noise and power electronics scene, most recently with solo project Depletion.
Marina Zispin largely eschews both Scout’s deconstructed approach to song and Reid’s focus on visceral, noise- based productions; the result is a new entity, the underground pop star that exists only in darkened dreams.
Marina Zispin, then, is an avatar cajoled, nurtured and directed by Scout and Reid. Analogue electronics redolent of the early 80s Cold Wave and Synth Pop era form the base of the Zispin worldview, with Bianca Scout donning the Marina disguise, embodying the character over five songs of swooning drama, playful melodic interplays and tear-stained, doe-eyed sentiment. Flowers In The Sea opens with an austere 4/4 beat and hypnotic synth parts before Scout/Zispin floats in across the lagoon. Scout’s vocal tone is an instant winner, sweet like honey pouring down over the cold, robotic productions and stereo-panned synth work. We can almost see the petals drift into the horizon before being pulled under by the artist’s sadness. Ski Resort bursts out with a Jacno-inspired bassline
and backing that could have been buried in a French disco in 1982 (think Stereo or Linear Movement) before Scout’s narrative details frivolousness and regret before a magical shift for the final coda into major key. Backworth Gold Club closes Side A, a mysterious rigid beat and minor chord synth arpeggios swimming in space, floating and obscure.
On Side B, Hymn carries the tone on, church-like synths holding down the pattern for Zispin/Scout to float above in a flowing gown of reverb. The marriage of Reid’s cold musical backbone and Scout’s effortless vocal and co- production is in full flow here, the vocals at times rising to the rafters of this nocturnal place of worship, at other points they’re fuzzy samples cutting in and drifting out or sung with an extreme autotune, abstract and perfect in the moment. Surprise Party is the most straightforward pop bullet, Scout/Zispin’s vocal peering out more from the fog, perhaps revealing more than usual: vulnerability, maybe, the wandering muse of the artists behind the veil or just another layer of mystery behind the enigma?
Marina Zispin’s Life & Death – The Five Chandeliers Of The Funereal Exorcisms ends as it began, scintillating in obscurity, leaving everything unanswered but open.