Suddenly awoken, with the weight of the world on her shoulders, the first sound that’s heard on one-woman electronic orchestra Ela Minus’ debut album is a long, deep breath. It reflects the Bogotá-born Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist and former hardcore drummer’s unceasing spirit. You sense that this moment of preparation is Minus gearing up for the fight of her life.
Really, though, scene-setting sci-fi-sounding opener ‘N19 5NF’ – which summons a half-machine half-human into existence – is the calm before the storm, melting into ‘Acts Of Rebellion’s urgent lead singles. Two empowering protest-techno-with-a-message juggernauts, ‘They Told Us It Was Hard, But They Were Wrong’ and ‘Megapunk’ mark a distinction and sonic evolution from the floaty dream-pop of 2017’s ‘Adapt’ EP and 2018’s rumbling club-driven ‘OK/‘So’.
With its anti-capitalist, anti-oppression cause – “we’re afraid we’ll run out of time, to stand up for our right, there’s no way out but fight” – the pounding ‘Megapunk’ is a boots-on-the-ground anthem. It stays true to Ela’s mission to make ‘bright music for dark times’, a mantra she scrawled on her synthesizer case when Donald Trump was elected US President in 2016. Forceful hardware synths and her softly-sung and insistent vocals (“nothing is… impossible”) elevate a seemingly generic slogan into a fierce rallying cry.
‘El Cielo No Es De Nadie’ – which Ela says refers to the Spanish phrase, ‘I’ll give you the sky’ – is just as powerful, though equally danceable thanks to electro buzzes and its infectious hummed chorus. Her music-with-a-mission bangers is particularly timeless, but as Ela put it to NME back in April: “There’s so much shit happening in the world and we all need to act on it”. This debut harnesses the spirit and will to overcome forcefully and with inclusivity.
‘Dominique’, though deceptively soothing, details the perils of being ground down, as her world-weary drive for change takes its toll. “Today, I woke up at 7pm; my brain feels like it’s going to break“, she sighs over juxtaposing dream-like synths. “I haven’t seen anyone in a couple of days“, Ela admits in a rare moment where victory does not seem quite the inevitable outcome.
Meditative instrumental interludes ‘Pocket Piano’ and the encouraging ‘Do Whatever You Want, All The Time’ reset the mind and body, but it’s ‘Let Them Have The Internet’ that provides Ela’s rewiring; the glitchy sci-fi bleeps and fuzzy static sounding as if she’s plugging herself into her much-loved electronic machines – slowly recharging, mustering up the courage for her next fight. Onwards!
- Release date: October 23
- Record label: Domino Records