As acts of rebellion go, Ela Minus’s is an intimate yet powerful one. On her debut album, the Colombia-born, Brooklyn-based artist makes personal-is-political statements amid alternately soothing and rousing electronic soundscapes, all of which she crafted alone in her apartment using analogue equipment.
Having started her musical life as a drummer in a punk band named Ratón Pérez, Minus turned to electronic music after attending Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she became immersed in improvisational jazz and techno raves. That’s where she fell in love with machines, inspired by Kraftwerk and early Daft Punk. She later became a synthesiser builder, and set about the self-imposed challenge of making Acts of Rebellion without using a single computer-generated sound.
Composed two years ago, Minus’s rousing lyricism, entwined with her propulsive beats, mirrors the political urgency of 2020 yet speaks to the enduring oppression of minorities in the US: “We can’t seem to find a reason to stay quiet,” she sings on the opening bars of Megapunk. “We’re afraid we’ll run out of time / To stand up for our rights.” As the track’s scattergun melodies intensify, so too does her vocal defiance. The record is infused with a radical spirit – from the ambient warmth of Let Them Have the Internet to the rippling soundscapes of Do Whatever You Want, All the Time, both of which are inspired by anti-capitalist theory. If that sounds dry, it’s anything but: the record shares messages of self-love and resistance which, integrated in its DIY approach, punch through with real resonance.