Elysia Crampton Elysia Crampton

[Break World; 2018]

Styles: sound, textile, “speech”
Others: Ofelia aka Carlos Espinosa, Candy, Titina, Barbarella

“I think my imagining or speculation comes out of a long Andean tradition that didn’t prioritise the written word or logos, but used textile and the body as legitimate forms of communication, modes of carrying and preserving historical memory, for example. Andean trans revolutionaries like Candy, Ofelia, Titina and Barbarella incarnated their politics using dance, body, song and dress, all as a means of negotiating agency and ‘speaking’ back to power, as opposed to theorising through text or appealing to academic and governmental institutions.”
– Elysia Crampton, interview with Tank Magazine

“But textile images are never imposed on the surface of the cloth: their patterns are always emergent from an active matrix, implicit in a web which makes them immanent to the processes from which they emerge.”
– Sadie Plant, Zeros + Ones

What might it mean to not speak or to speak in a way that elides understanding? How can meaning be communicated besides and beyond the apparatus of the written word? And what might this practice sound like? Elysia Crampton’s new self-titled album, her fourth since dropping the E+E moniker, is a tightly-controlled, affectively capacious accumulation of sound that communicates beyond speech. In its collection of styles, histories, and genres, it weaves a mesh for the listener to inhabit — a transversal, polymorphous space-time — where past and future run together, a fabric upon which Andean dance and digital collage, trans revolution, and carceral capitalism can be thought and sounded together.

Crampton’s music moves with multiplicity, her sounds crashing into each other, becoming animated by their proximity and difference, always irreducible to the sum of their parts. They trace circuitous paths, circling back upon themselves, transitioning into different planes, covering territories that are in constant flux, their boundaries reforming as they are conjured. In an interview with Tank Magazine, Crampton discusses the Aymaran space-time of taypi, where “for example, the world of outside and the world of inside are woven together, braided so as to appear as one colour, one thing, until you look closely to see they cohabit or speckle one another without ever fully dissolving into a whole, single object.” Compositionally, this ontological mode results in the elision of linear cause and effect in favor of the weaving together of sounds, each part of the sonic whole always implicated in its neighbor’s unfolding — threaded together, their colors and textures bound, entangled. We can observe this textilic approach in “Oscollo’s” fuzzy, buzzing textures, in the movements of its mournful tones, which throw their arms out, wrapping themselves around rolling drums, widescreen digitalia, clicks; the song a shimmer, hovering at the edge of perception. Or we can look to “Pachuyma,” whose militant drums and anxious, discordant energy evoke a form of collapse that is also always an opening, gesturing toward an elsewhere, a becoming that is just coming into reach. Crampton’s attentiveness to the grain of her compositions — the ways in which their threads come together and split apart — animates them with a sense of imminence, that something is coming, working its way through the shivering sound.

Here we can draw a link between taypi and Sadie Plant’s evocation of the textile, which emerges through the dense networks of thread that combine to form the cloth. Both operate through emergence, an active form that is always in process, always drawing from its surroundings — what it touches, its entanglements — to come into view. To separate out the textile’s constituent parts is to miss its message; it is the collectivity that “speaks.” Aesthetically, this “speaking” is accomplished through moments of blur and glint, moments in which the singular and the multiple shine through each other, distinct and inseparable. On “Orion Song,” droning tones undergird a glistening nebula of sound, a constellation whose parts catch the light of a distant explosion as they hurtle through space. This same glitter courses through “Solilunita,” whose enjoinder to “Fuck with ocelote” sets the stage for a jittering music that pirouettes and dips; lightness and heaviness, tension and release threaded through one other: unfolding, shifting, (re)sounding.


“Antistrophe as a turning against, that responsive & resonating
refusal to be still — janiwa, the No that we are that is also And —
Y y Y”

– Elysia Crampton.

Definition of antistrophe - 1a : the repetition of words in reversed order.

What do we do with a world whose order constricts, whose logics channel and funnel, controlling the terms through which something other, something different can emerge? How do we turn against it, away from it?

In A Handbook of Disappointed Fate, Anne Boyer argues that “transpositions and upendings, at least for a minute, refuse and then reorder the world.” Crampton’s music enacts such a disordering, sounding its refusal of the boundaries between inside and outside, singular and plural. Within the world of her sound, linear temporality is upended; her songs burst into life, drag and fall, sway and swell. Beginnings and endings are beside the point. Here, the past is not something to be unearthed, but persists and resonates into the future, guiding us away from the moribund certainty of our colonialized present, toward other modes of being, doing, knowing, feeling. An elsewhere approached through juxtaposition, assemblage, the manipulation of sensory states to communicate, not with words, but in and against them, through what Fred Moten calls an “anachoreography,” a “musicked speech” that falls, circles, and shakes, that constructs itself in real time, guided by the textures of the sounds, the weave of a history of resistance, fugitivity, imagination: a lively, wondrous noise.

Eureka!

Some releases are so incredible we just can’t help but exclaim EUREKA! While many of our picks here defy categorization and explore the constructed boundaries between ‘music’ and ‘noise,’ others complement, continue, or rupture traditions that provide new forms and ways of listening. Not all of our favorites will be listed here, but we think each EUREKA! album is worthy of careful consideration. This section is a work-in-progress, so expect its definition to be in perpetual flux.

Most Read