Elysia Crampton - ORCORARA 2010

  • With a palette of discordant piano, fuzzy guitar and hand percussion, this is Crampton's most striking album yet.
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  • ORCORARA 2010 features readings of the poet Jaime Sáenz, a renowned Bolivian artist whose work was informed by the rugged Andean landscape of La Paz. Elysia Crampton's music has a similar focus, driven by the expanse of the Americas and the indigenous people who inhabit it. While previous work has featured uncanny sound manipulation, ORCORARA 2010 has a hyperfocused sound that mirrors the landscape of the Andes: lush and green at one moment, cracked and arid the next. More than other Elysia Crampton albums, ORCORARA 2010 revolves around vocals, mainly readings from a handful of poets including Sáenz, Juan Ramón Jiménez and Charles Wright. The readings are edited, skipping around from passages in their source material. They're also moving, reverent and fascinating. Jiménez's "enormous, black dog clouds bark along the whole Western horizon in a prodigious uproar of mad goodbyes" is one of the LP's first verbal images, and it sticks with you. OCORARA 2010 compiles sounds and words from a range of sources, a different spin on Crampton's collage-style approach. There's a narrative to the album, which follows "intergenerational trauma, fugitives of Christian violence in a twilight called Puruma, returning to Mama Cocha, the sea that theorists call Nowhere," according to the LP's notes. You can trace it out in the readings, which span poets, eras and continents. The way Crampton cobbles together different sources reflects the experience of indigenous peoples like the Aymara, whose culture once spread across man-made borders and is now irreparably torn by them. Crampton's work has always been a contradictory mass of ideas, from her earliest edits of E+E down to her dense and dizzy self-titled album from 2018. On ORCORARA 2010, these contradictions spread out in slower, more patient ways, outlining themes of hope, faith, nature, dislocation and identity. The poetry readings appear and disappear among passages of ambience and instrumental songs. The brief "Sierra Nevada" is based around what sounds like a phased, growling electric guitar, while "Dried Pine" sounds like Crampton is scratching the fretboard with a twig. Other tracks are rousing, like the synth horn march "Spring Of Wound," or the ritualistic "Crucifixion," which features the vocals of Light Asylum's Shannon Funchess. Amid the quivering percussion and ragged electric guitar lies the album's most tender moment, the acoustic ballad "Grove," where singer-songwriter Embaci rises and falls in a seemingly improvised melody. She's surrounded by an acoustic guitar lick that falls over her voice like thick raindrops. There's nothing else like it on the album, or in Crampton's catalogue, which makes the song's mirage-like appearance all the sweeter. "I want to settle myself where the river falls on hard rocks, where no one can reach," says Rojas, quoting American poet Charles Wright. That's from "Flora," the closing track, where the speaker finds solace in a harsh, empty landscape. It sounds like a welcome return to the Andean landscape, but like everything else on ORCORARA 2010, the idea is probably not as straightforward as it seems. On ORCORARA 2010, Crampton fleshes out a unique sound world that's desolate but lush, harsh yet hopeful. It feels like one of her greatest, most permanent works. I'm drawn back to the reading of Sáenz's Someone Must Be Called Twilight on "Grove," which changes the order of the poem's lines to give it a hopeful new meaning. It's a romantic poem of intense longing, confused memories and a plea to forget: "Many times I forgot you, wanted to forget myself and remembered I had to forget you, thinking of you for the very reason I didn't want to remember you." She then invokes the poem's opening line, summing up the powerful spirit of ORCORARA 2010 in six words: "Through the years, the glow persists."
  • Tracklist
      01. Secret Ravine 02. Dog Clouds feat. Jeremy Rojas 03. Morning Star-Red Glare-Sequoia Bridge feat. Jeremy Rojas 04. Grove feat. Embaci 05. Sierra Nevada feat. Jeremy Rojas 06. Homeless (Q'ara) 07. Amaru (Dried Pine) 08. Crucifixion feat. Shannon Funchess 09. Spring Of Wound 10. Crest feat. Fanny Chuquimia 11. Abolition 12. Flora feat. Jeremy Rojas