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    January 9, 2024

The Bolivian American artist formerly known as Elysia Crampton spins Andean music, digital effects, and overwhelming distortion into a binary-smashing collage with ecstatic overtones.

Chuquimamani-Condori’s gloriously fractured music mashes the mundane with the divine, leaving every jagged seam lovingly exposed. As Elysia Crampton, E+E, and now using their Aymara name, the Bolivian American experimental producer has woven cumbia, tarqueada, huayño, and other Andean folk and dance styles into splintered collages pierced by white-noise blasts, electronic rhythms, and hyper-compressed digital bass. Beyond simply invoking these genres, they capture a sense of their passage through the world—as if their muffled rhythms were blasting out of an overdriven PA system in the park, or ripped from an online mix with the ads still intact. Chuquimamani-Condori treats these sounds as a breathing social organism, an animated embodiment of traditional music as it lives today.

After a handful of releases like ORCORARA 2010 and Selected Demos & DJ Edits [2007-2019] that presented the disparate building blocks of Chuquimamani-Condori’s music at their rawest, DJ E dazzlingly rejoins the pieces. Dropped onto Bandcamp with little fanfare toward the end of last year, it feels like a full-circle moment for Chuquimamani-Condori; like 2018’s self-titled album or their mesmerizing 2015 debut, American Drift, it could never be mistaken for the work of another artist. It is simultaneously harrowing yet warm, deathly urgent yet defiantly playful. Though everything from the album’s low-key release to its proudly unmastered sound may seem to undercut its significance, Chuquimamani-Condori’s rejection of industry norms only serves to highlight the vitality of the music.

The first thing you may notice about DJ E is just how busted it sounds. Chuquimamani-Condori stacks one ultra-compressed layer on top of another, their claustrophobic mixing only heightening the music’s intensity. “The older I get, the uglier I want my music to feel,” they told Tiny Mix Tapes in 2015, arguing that clean, self-consciously futuristic sound design is rooted in a colonialist “mode of educated whiteness.” By that metric, DJ E is Chuquimamani-Condori’s most violent rebellion yet: “Forastero Edit” skitters with sword-drawing stock effects and stop-start guitar from their brother Joshua Chuquimia Crampton (whose own ultra-minimal music has paralleled Chuquimamani-Condori’s over the last few years). “Return” buries its pleading siku panpipes in a blown-out fog of throbbing bass and crunched-up distortion, in what feels like trying to glimpse sunlight through a sandstorm. It’s not that far off from the disorientation caused by the weirder end of Brazilian funk, a kind of hypnosis only made possible by the sound of plug-in bass presets clipping out of control.

Though Chuquimamani-Condori’s music is concerned with destruction and transformation—whether of gender, apparatuses of oppression, or the spirit itself—DJ E highlights the way that repetition plays into catharsis. Songs don’t develop as much as softly mutate in place, and they often return to the same motifs. The manic laughter that writhes throughout “Eat My Cum” previously appeared on the E+E track “STEERED,” and the various DJ tags and radio transitions littered throughout the album will be familiar to anyone accustomed to Chuquimamani-Condori’s work. Where their previous albums could be disturbingly dark, however, DJ E reveals a newfound sweetness, a sense of coming home. Nostalgic tracks like “Breathing” and “Until I Find You Again” reconfigure the artist’s palette with all the earnestness of a handmade album of blurry photos your aunt printed off of Facebook.

Even the plastic detritus in Chuquimamani-Condori’s music feels charged by a higher power; few other artists could successfully deliver doomsday sermons while holding a keytar. On “Engine,” a tender piano melody glides alongside a whirring like that of a dentist’s drill—when its buzzing slows at the end, it feels like a great exhale. They’ve described DJ E as “the sound of our water ceremonies, the 40 bands playing their melodies at once to recreate the cacophony of the first aurora & the call of the morning star venus.” For Chuquimamani-Condori, this digital overload is tantamount to a spiritual release. The line between club and folk music smudges to the point where the two become indistinguishable, and the truth of who we are lies somewhere in that pixelated middle space.