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Angel-Ho Steps Out Front South African transgender artist, as personality and persona BY STEVE ERICKSON outh African producer/ vocalist AngelHo likes American pop music enough that she’s posted a remix of Aaliyah’s “Rock the Boat,” re-named “Howling Motorbikes,” on the download site Bandcamp. But her debut album “Death Becomes Her” approaches it with a distance that partially reflects the fact that she’s a trans woman. Her reputation up to this point has been based on her instrumental production on three EPs, work as a DJ, and co-founding of the NON Worldwide label. With this album, she’s begun expressing herself more directly by singing and rapping in a voice that recalls Grace Jones. Its first single is called “Like a Girl.” It begins with Angel-Ho singing, “I can be your girl in a lonely world.” American rapper K-Rizz delivers the second verse in a sexually frank style and hyped-up flow. But when Angel-Ho returns, she describes herself an “African queen” and “whistle-blower,” as well as a “shot caller.” Along with “Like That,” which is dominated by thick blasts of bass, this is the closest “Death Becomes Her”



”Death Becomes Her” is the debut album from Angelo-Ho,

comes to mainstream pop. However, I don’t think it’s reading too much to think that the many breathy declarations of “I can be your girl” are self-aware about the number of people who don’t accept trans women as genuine women.

“Death Becomes Her” brings up images of femininity and female sexuality from pop music and places them in a new context. When its lyrics explicitly refer to Britney Spears, I’m sure that Angel-Ho genuinely loves her music, but she’s not making straightforward, easily consumable music. “Muse To You” features boasting about designer bags and sex, but instead of simply celebrating her success, Angel-Ho sings, “no longer beaten and abused, you are the muse.” The lyrics of “Business” and “Live” come close to familiar hip-hop bragging but do so over dissonant backing tracks instead of smooth, danceable beats. On “Live,” the music eventually gets louder and harsher, drowning out her vocals. Much of “Death Becomes Her” consists of woozy, abrasive instrumentals featuring metallic percussion. “Jacomina” offers some relief with a funky bassline evoking the theme from “Seinfeld.” Angel-Ho frequently overdubs and processes her voice to the point where it becomes disorienting. “Destify” uses vocals to simulate

➤ ANGEL-HO, continued on p.25


Transcendence in the Stillness Hu Bo probes emptiness and d seeking in modern Chinese life BY STEVE ERICKSON aking a very long film says “this story warrants more than a casual two hours in a movie theater or, especially, in front of a TV set.” While one can understand instantly why Claude Lanzmann thought his Holocaust documentary “Shoah,” which he spent years shooting, needed to be nine hours long, the rationale behind narrative films like Hu Bo’s “An Elephant Sitting Still” takes more consideration. While I was watching it, I felt a link to the Hungarian director Béla Tarr’s seven-hour “Satantango.” Afterwards, I learned that Hu studied with Tarr and made his short “Man in the Well” under his supervision. Bleak tales of Chinese life outside the country’s biggest cities have become very familiar in its independent cinema. While “An Elephant Sitting Still” is three hours shorter than the “Sátántangó,” both rely on Steadicam tracking shots. They also use duration to build sympathy, even complicity, with characters




Uvin Wang, Congxi Li, Yu Zhang, and Yuchang Peng in Hu Bo’s “An Elephant Sitting Still,” which opens March 8 at the Film Society of LIncoln Center.

whose behavior is sometimes nasty and unpleasant. But if “Sátántangó” is a tale of disillusionment starting from the premise that

opening Hungary up after the fall of Eastern

➤ ELEPHANT, continued on p.25 February 28 - March 13, 2019 |

Profile for Schneps Media

Gay City News - February 28, 2019  

February 28, 2019

Gay City News - February 28, 2019  

February 28, 2019