Where is elsewhere? What lasts forever? Nowhere and nothing, right? Which brings us to the seeming placelessness of apocalypse: that which has not yet happened has no place. And, since Kant, space can no longer be said to exist, objectively, or be discoverable as such. We moderns are all always elsewhere, whether we like it or not.
But apocalypse is not necessarily placeless. As salvagepunker Evan Calder Williams explains: we’re living in it, more or less. Living in not-so-post-crisis catastrophe, in a “no future” that demands that we become post-apocalyptic “when we accept the present as rubbish, as undead, and as under attack… A crooked grin to break the dead air…”
It’s from this No Man’s Land (but what can a woman do with such a space?), this Kill Zone, that Sasha Perera — a.k.a. Perera Elsewhere — sings her twisted threnodies for the eternally revenant: “It’s on this weird emotional border where you feel like you’ve missed or lost something but you’re also savouring something too.”
Berlin is Perera’s present base, and there is a feeling on her first album of the ghosts of the Cold War. If in “The Gernsback Continuum” William Gibson imagined a retrofuturistic madness hallucinating Googie sci-fi, Everlast is a landscape in which Mutually Assured Destruction went acoustic cyberpunk. Meanwhile, Perera’s imagery, or more accurately her imaginary, adapts the naïve and utopian 90s graphics beloved of vaporwavers and seapunks for a more sinister end.
What other debts does Everlast owe to history? (After all, the historical debt, that Faustian bargain, is the gift that never stops taking, a gift horse that never stops talking.) Trip-hop — which, along with grunge, was one of the last stable genres before the Great Shattering and the bacterial proliferation of microgenres — ground to a halt as it eased its way slickly into downtempo wallpaper chill. Everlast, on the contrary, feels like a true heir, in the sense that it is nothing like its genre progenitor, yet at the same time, in terms of sonics, atmosphere, emotion, Weltanschauung, it could only be a lung-sprouting organism rising from the Bristol seashore’s primal goop — or, to mix a metaphor in a Darwinian cauldron, a phoenix not only rising from, but made of ashes and crumbling at the touch.
On a cursory listen, Everlast can seem appropriate as background. But it’s precisely this furniture-music-esque quality that Perera uses to smuggle in her subtly experimental nightmares and unsettlingly skewed perspectives. Her voice most closely recalls the beautiful, cold-and-cruel claustrophobia of Martina Topley-Bird’s work with Tricky, but, over the acoustic work Perera uses as thin end of the wedge, her crystalline-yet-dusty intonation also recalls Hope Sandoval. Like the early rappers who Tricky adapted, Everlast’s dystopia is one in which the experience and infliction of suffering is political as well as personal, like an incestuous tumor dripping black and addictive milk from a mutated teat.
“The Zap,” with its onomatopoeic effects, could be a deconstruction of Serge Gainsbourg’s “Comic Strip” for a cabaret in Alphaville or a jaunty self-fulfilling troubadour’s lament for Cronenberg’s Fly. Meanwhile, Perera has been involved with the Goethe Institut’s Ten Cities project (didn’t I mention Faust already?), and eerie, dissonant album standout “Ebora” (featuring Ameru and sung in Yoruba) is accompanied by an appropriately roughly-manipulated, disquieting clip of a chopped-and-screwed Lagos:
“Ọni lọ odo o ri ẹbọra..Ọni bu omi L.A. amu lo ri ẹbọra”
Translation: (The) one who goes to (the) river sees no spirit(s); (the) one who fetches from (the) pot sees spirit(s)’
Warning people against political deceit, misappropriation, corruption, bullying, inbalance, inequality, exploitation and many more.
Globalization’s discontents and its compensatory, unevenly distributed pleasures are thereby made manifest, but in digital rather than fleshy avatar.
Calder Williams suggests that, in our combined and uneven apocalypse, we live in “a world in which sections are designated not of this world.” Cities and their “bad parts of town” are both the sites of this casting-off (in developed and developing worlds) and seedbeds of the possibility of contestation — on the ground and as thought-forms of present and absent world-logics and world-orders. On Everlast, an otherworldly wordliness and world-weariness is where we both find and mourn the loss of our (post)modern Selves.