PREMIERE: Thief Covers Chelsea Wolfe’s “Tall Bodies”

Dylan Neal shares a live hammered dulcimer recording of Wolfe’s 2011 single.

Some covers do little to differentiate themselves from the revered original version of songs; others are performed with hammered dulcimers. Dylan Neal’s take on Chelsea Wolfe’s already-very-haunting “Tall Bodies” falls under the latter category, as the musician now recording under the name Thief has been experimenting with the percussion-stringed instrument since his days playing with black metal heavyweights Botanist.

“I have always wanted to do a collection of covers from women artists that have been a big inspiration in my life (Bjork, Portishead, Hole, Chelsea Wolfe, etc.), and in a way that could showcase the dulcimer that I used in Botanist,” Neal shares. “The two came together with this Chelsea Wolfe song as her first two albums had a huge impact on me. That first album is especially frost-bitten. They’re the sound of Scorpio rising.”

He continues, “I wanted to have a visual representation of what happens at the end of the song when the audio begins to ‘smear’ (the dulcimer is being processed live through a few tape/granular modules). The smearing video glitch that occurs is done by using Conway’s Game of Life cellular automation as a means to glitch the video. I had read about the visual artist Kaspar Ravel that had invented this concept so I reached out to him to learn how to do it. The machines used melt and disintegrate any sense of a ‘straight line,’ visually and sonically. Two arrows meet in mid air: There are straight lines in a crooked world. There is no line to be straight, or world to be crooked.”

Watch the live recording below, where Neal takes on synth duties and Robert Chiang sits in on hammered dulcimer, and Chris Hackman contributes stand-up bass. You can check out Thief’s back catalog on Bandcamp.

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