FKA Twigs returns with her beautiful, multidisciplinary, and theatrical Magdalene tour | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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FKA Twigs returns with her beautiful, multidisciplinary, and theatrical Magdalene tour

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FKA Twigs is a singular force in ethereal, otherworldly trip-hop and avant-pop. Born Tahliah Debrett Barnett in Gloucestershire, England, the British singer, songwriter, dancer, producer, and director seems nearly unparalleled in her creative drive—and that’s illustrated by her current tour. Named after the new Magdalene (Young Turks), her second LP and first in five years, the multidisciplinary experience finds inspiration in Gesamtkunstwerk, a German concept that means “total work of art” or “synthesis of the arts.” Twigs is already known for her beautifully choreographed live shows, full of dancers and elaborate costumes; with Magdalene, she adds fantastical set designs, martial arts, sword dancing, pole dancing, artsy lighting, and more. Conversely, the new album strips back the eerie electronic production that helped establish Twigs’s aesthetic. Strange, alien sounds and warbling effects remain, but here her incredible soprano is front and center, accompanied by beautiful piano passages and orchestral flourishes. And though she established a somber, melancholy tone with her early material, Magdalene takes that further—it’s downright sorrowful at times, a feeling epitomized by “Home With You” and album closer “Cellophane.” Over the sparse piano notes of the latter, Twigs despairingly and delicately asks, “Why don’t I do it for you? / Why won’t you do it for me? / When all I do is for you?” And when she sings “They want to see us alone / They want to see us apart,” it’s hard not to wonder if the song is directly informed by her high-profile relationships with Robert Pattinson and Shia LeBeouf. It’s an especially vulnerable way to end an album, and it points to Twigs’s self-reinvention while cementing her as a generational talent.   v

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