Zyna Hel @ The Hug and Pint, Glasgow, 3 June
Whisper it, but there’s something of the am-dram to tonight. Which sounds catty and mealy-mouthed when it isn’t designed to be; it’s just that certain frilly accoutrements are present, from the oversized purple moth shawl hanging above the stage to the wiccan performance art of Zorya, whose abstract cadences from keyboard and laptop frame a cover of John Cage’s bewitching The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs, then splay out into an extended soundscape full of heavy breath and dislocated moaning.
Meanwhile Hausfrau – the alter ego of Glasgow-based musician Claudia Nova – at times appears to be one-woman tribute act to the (wonderful) I’m in Love with a German Film Star by The Passions, an old 80s hit that (like Nova herself) hints at all kinds of Teutonic élan (ably assisted by the glam goth look she’s modelling). This is the first time she’s performed many of the tracks live – not that it shows, vocals floating lavishly above a synth-pop backing that would have been even more enticing if played by a full band rather than a box of tricks.
Elisabeth Oswell – a.k.a. Zyna Hel – also arrives with laptop-player in tow, but eyes are upon the presence centre-stage; a combination of alluring dramatic poses and a voice that’s simultaneously warm yet icy. Celebrating debut single Catacombs – produced by the always busy Benjamin John Power – this is a set that celebrates a certain electro-pop provenance – a universal panache that would work fantastically well on a bigger stage. Wispy, bitey, enigmatic lyrics that float in and around each song – they suggest that Zyna Hel will go far (as well as underscoring the folly of that “am-dram” reference up top).