Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
The Gretta Rochelle that we hold in our heads as the tested and true document of her everyday nature is one that takes some squinting and reading between the lines to make out. It's written in a smearable, water soluble ink and a glass of water or a shot of vodka's been spilled all over it. The ink, our caricature, is bleeding this way and that, her features and attributes suddenly taking on the qualities of rivers and streams, forging across a flat, paper landscape. You see, she seems a little like a loose cannon, like she's willing to try anything. You wouldn't be surprised to see her some night with gorgeously long, flowing brown hair - something stereotypically pretty and admired, the envy of many ladies - and then the following day, she'd be standing before you with it all shaved off, save for a wave of it, now dyed bleach white. It would have been done on a whim, without premeditation, just to see what it would look and feel like to do such a thing without warning. It would feel as right as anything to her. We imagine her to ache a bit inside, for something that she can't placed, for a feeling that lurches out there, hidden in the darkness. It keeps poking her and giving her ideas.
My Gold Mask, the duo that Rochelle fronts from behind her drum kit - along with guitarist Jack Armondo, is an attempt to put so many of her poetic fears and her subsequent lack of fear over them into song and it reaches us in the form of a therapy session that Bjork might have, if she ever made any sense. We're overhearing the many intermingling thoughts that are circling inside her head like vultures, descending to the ground when they think they spy some food moving around. We hear them in massively big, splattering clashes, with plenty of room to breathe.
Armondo and Rochelle work a cavernous sound that still sounds like a bedroom on nearly every song from their full-length EP, "A Thousand Voices." Rochelle has a wide-ranging voice that gives us those moments of epiphany and those moments of slight whispers into ears, meant for one and only one. They don't feel much different. It's all coming from someone who likes "violet eyes," "shooting arrows in the dark" and "rain upon your windowpane," all while following the ghosts of people. It sometimes feels as if we're out on a ghost hunt on "A Thousand Voices." We are left adrift of what we know or what we're familiar with. Rochelle makes sure that nothing ever stays too familiar.
*Essay originally published August, 2011