Elysia Crampton Elysia Crampton Presents: Demon City Break World Records
Elysia Crampton presents: Demon City feels like a sonic reinterpretation of Bosch’s Dante’s Inferno – a landscape of complete and nightmarish chaos. The album, written in the ‘Severo style’ – a philosophical term coined by Donna Hathaway to describe the process of ‘becoming with’ – looks at the experience of breaking boundaries between cultures and identities. ‘Becoming’, for Crampton, is the term used to describe the pull of music to resemble something more than just beats on a screen. Instead, Crampton’s work acts as a techno-futurist vessel into a realm that is both political and ontological.
The track After Woman (for Bartolina Sisa) follows the tale of an abolitionist revolutionary whose lead in an indigenous uprising against the Spanish resulted in her being publicly raped and hanged, her body cut into pieces and exhibited in different villages across South America. In effect, the album is an ode to Sisa, and like her, Crampton’s work is keen to push the boundaries of activism. A self-proclaimed transvangelist, Crampton’s work pushes gender politics and questions notions of identity, nationality and race, much like her contemporaries Arca, Lotic and Rabit.
Her 2015 debut American Drift, that questioned the concept of otherness through a steady aural analysis of skin colour, racism and colonialism, took inspiration from her own Bolivian-American heritage. Demon City takes this idea further. Polyrhythmic drums and maniacal laughs-turned-percussion create a sphere of sonic discomfort that conveys Crampton’s own alienation as a Bolivian transgender artist in a world of homophobic, transphobic and racist predispositions.
Is it easy to listen to? No, but then again, Crampton’s work challenges the listener, and much like her E+E moniker – through hip-hop beats and quotes accompanying each track – layers level upon level of texture, sound and meaning.