LIVE REPORTRED MARQUEE7/29 SUN
Joshia Wise, aka serpentwithfeet, often comes attached to the label “pagan-gospel” in interviews. It sounds like an oxymoron at first, but Wise deals in evocative and darkly ethereal atmospherics which loom almost menacingly behind deeply personal and emotive content. The low pumping beats, benthic growls and choral harmonies that underscore the flights of his gospel-trained voice in songs like “mourning song” make this pagan in the darkest sense.
Yet also sublimely profane is the tendency to eschew traditional song structure and content. Throughout his set at the Red Marquee, Wise returns to his main lyrical themes in different guises, ending a song on one side of the stage only to pick it back up again at his piano, the main refrain reinterpreted and refracted. At times he is suggestive of Bjork’s darker moments and at other’s the unsettling avant-garde of Arca, yet his classical training brings in an element entirely his own to the mix.
There is an alchemy is this quietly powerful performace that pulls open old (and new) wounds, casting a spell over the hushed and captivated audience who stand silent, slightly swaying, occasional raising their arms in momentary reverie at these subversive spirituals.