Ariel Zetina - Cyclorama Music Album Reviews

Ariel Zetina - Cyclorama Music Album Reviews
On her debut album, the rising Chicago DJ spins thrilling, multifaceted club music into a celebration of her Belizean heritage and trans identity.

In the last couple of years, as a resident DJ at Chicago’s iconic Smartbar, Discwoman artist Ariel Zetina has become a beacon for the queer electronic underground. Playing trance-techno sets informed by her identity as a trans woman of Belizean descent, Zetina combines the rhythms of Garifuna folk genres punta and brukdown with Chicago house, hyperpop, bass music, and maximalist techno. Coming toward the end of a year in which she was nominated for DJ Mag’s “Breakthrough DJ” award, Zetina’s debut album, Cyclorama, is one of 2022’s most expansive techno records. Turning club music into a wide-ranging interrogation of queerness, Cyclorama is soft and hard in the same breath. Zetina combines just about every influence from her DJ sets into an animated, percussion-heavy art performance that pulls back the curtain on her life, centering her trans and Belizean identities every step of the way.

From start to finish, Cyclorama is a rollicking allegory of tropical fantasia and queer fantasy. Tracks like “Chasers” (a term for cis individuals who fetishize trans people), “Birdflight Tonite,” and “Smoke Machine” present queer dancefloor subtexts soaked with Caribbean-infused house rhythms, vocal samples, and breakbeat mutations. Despite its frequently euphoric energy, Cyclorama is grounded in a socio-political landscape in which trans women and nonbinary people, especially those of color, face far greater acts of gender-based violence, murder, and homelessness than any other members of the LGBT community. In carefully detailing the realities of trans women of color and their experiences, Zetina carves out a space of refuge within the album’s bright, reassuring sound. The Mia Arevalo collaboration “Gemstone,” for instance, is an uplifting anthem about self-esteem in a world that devalues and dehumanizes trans women’s livelihoods. “Gemstone” is jolted by its techno tempo, but its colorful array of synths offers a signal for hope amid fear. “Belleza no te preocupes/Don’t forget we all bleed,” she sings, delivering a heartfelt love letter to the dolls.

Cyclorama repeatedly addresses the power struggles trans subjects face in a cis-normative society, especially around sex. On “Have You Ever” (featuring Chicago producer and peer Cae Monāe), she repeats, “Daddy, have you ever been with a girl like me before/Do you want to touch me?” “Slab of Meat” unfolds like a nightmarish spoken-word vision of what it’s like to date, and be sexualised, as a trans woman. “Feeling like a slab of meat forgotten in the freezer/Are you gonna thaw me out? Or are you gonna leave me?/Throw me on the counter babe and pound me with a cleaver,” Zetina intones over thudding kick drums, her ominously processed voice growing more urgent as the track gains intensity. Picking up the playfully insightful thread running through Cyclorama, it’s a theatrical, spellbinding, and relentless confrontation with the id.

In theater, a cyclorama is a large curtain placed on the back wall of a stage, often intended to extend the background or replicate a sky. The nine tracks here suggest the kinds of projections that might be displayed on Zetina’s own personal cyclorama. Using today’s queer club sounds as the album’s foundation, Zetina draws on personal strife as a tool for transformative thinking. At its core, Cyclorama frames the joys of what might be called doll-mania: the frenetic yet euphoric rush of being a trans person equally dedicated to the ritual of the dancefloor, its people, and their place in the world after the set ends.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Ariel Zetina - Cyclorama Music Album Reviews Ariel Zetina - Cyclorama Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on November 04, 2022 Rating: 5


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