image via Angel Ho

The Emancipation of Angel Ho

The Cape Town based electronic artist Angel Ho made an international splash last year with his hard- hitting debut EP Ascension.  That release consisted of five sinister experimental tracks and was mastered by Arca, whose previous collaborators have included Kayne West and Bjork.  Angel Ho is also the co-founder of NON records, an internet based collective with a mission to work ‘’ across genre and geography to unite politically and sonically forward-thinking musicians in an ongoing exploration of Pan-African identity in the twenty-first century’’. On Soundcloud, NON has been building an impressive body of work, with its geographically disparate artists united by their brutal yet danceable music.

Angel Ho’s latest release Emancipation, a collaboration with Desire Marea, continues this trend. A ‘bootleg collection’ he has described it as “tracks that became an emancipating, unifying experience for everyone listening.  It is for our relative black queer trans communities, I want us to exist without compromise and to be brave everyday’. This hopeful sentiment presides over the collection of four dark, pulverising new songs and remixes.  The addictive ‘Clocccc’ sounds like it was recorded inside a machine gun, while ‘I Don’t Want Your Man’ twists a song by Keyshia Cole until it sounds like she is presiding over the apocalypse. And it’s all wrapped together with Chino Amobi’s opulent cover art, which shows golden dragons writhing through a surreal blizzard.

Currently, many underground electronic artists are making explicitly political releases.  Already this year, new albums from ANOHNI and Fatima Al Qadiri are confronting catastrophic global warming, drone warfare and state terrorism head on. Although the political themes in Angel Ho’s work are more subtle, its sense of dread and violence is utterly contemporary. One of his best works ‘Solidarity’ responded to the 2015 Fees Must Fall movement, eloquently capturing the tumult of repression and rebellion. It was loaded onto Soundcloud with an image of a police riot vehicle doused in flame.  Like this photo, Angel Ho and NON are a snapshot of a chaotic time, both dangerous and thrilling.

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