Boomkat Product Review:
Angel-Ho takes to Hyperdub with her killer debut album proper, ‘Death Becomes Her’
Metamorphosing from the bullet-riddled chrysalis of her ‘Red Devil’ mixtape into a melodically colourful and vital voice in new electronic club music, the South African artist is accompanied by guest vox from K Rizz, Queezy and K-$, plus production by Gaika, Nunu, Bon and Asmara Maroof, who all play their role in “killing the old self, and expressing a poetic way of assuming a new identity.”
The album is thus about “emancipation and trans identity”, and reveals Angel-Ho as a gifted lyricist/vocalist as well as a master of curious, probing arrangements of tone, texture and rhythm. But, for anyone familiar (or even slightly obsessed) with her fractious ‘Red Devil’ mixtape, her advance into far more tempered and filigree sound organisation may come as a shock. Her music now more closely resembles the hard-won styles of Arca and Lotic, with stronger binds to mutant R&B and Rap, as well as core influence from SA musics such as Gqom and Kwaito.
Where her previous releases were effectively dizzying, abstract descriptions of South Africa and the trans-global Black and queer experience, ‘Death Becomes Her’ merges the figurative and brutalist with more literal, and poetic expressions, for a varied and full frontal definition of Angel-Ho as an artist. Songs such as the Kwaito-esque dance-pop of ‘Like A Girl’, and ‘Muse To You’ are just that, proper dance songs with verse/chorus structures and stunningly animated/animating rhythms, while ‘Baby Tee’ offers a smart sidespin on R&B conventions, and others naturally push the prism toward the avant, as with the use of Bee-Gees choruses in the blinding, off-key and jagged ‘Live’ or the Coil-ed poise of ‘Pose’, or the keening, oblique shape of ‘Bussy’.