By Ng Su Ann
“My name is Nat Ćmiel,” yeule announces, falteringly, on the opening track of sophomore album Glitch Princess. To meet Nat Ćmiel is to also meet yeule: the non-binary London-via-Singapore avant-pop artist, producer, and self-described cyborg, born Natasha Yelin Chang. “I am 22 years old. I like music, dancing ballet,“ they continue, stilted confessions of a soft-spoken glitch princess listing out likes and dislikes: “I like making up my own world and the people who live inside me”. It blurs the line between authentic and constructed, but that’s precisely the point: yeule’s work is an ongoing project to make real their imagined realities.
Now that we’ve been introduced, the artist demands attention, immersion, and introspection. A cyber-gothic, neo-tech lullaby for a post-apocalyptic world, Glitch Princess flirts with the gentle, sweet call of death, micro-deaths, and ego deaths. Take euphoric epic “Electric“, for example. Here, between swells of autotuned screeches, yeule whispers: “slowly in the frame of my own mind, I can hear the voices telling me to die”.
On “Eyes”, yeule expresses their desire to “burn out” of their body, its atmospheric intro and gradual build-up of cavernous electronics and increasingly distorted vocals the perfect backdrop. And then there’s “Perfect Blue (ft. Tohji)”, named after Satoshi Kon’s 1997 anime thriller of the same name. Parallels abound: not only was yeule born in 1997, but Perfect Blue’s tale of a pop idol’s descent into insanity on- and offline resonates clearly through their work.
Most of Glitch Princess finds yeule in familiar yet varied, post-pop territory. Hypnotic, soothing un-melodies sit amongst alien soundscapes and jagged edges of feedback loops; ethereal whispers, experimental shoegaze sounds, and videogame music come together in a fever dream.
There are exceptions, of course. “Don’t Be So Hard on Your Own Beauty” offers a detour into jangly, slacker-pop guitars, offering cathartic release at the album’s midpoint. But special mention has to be made of the digital-only ambient closer “The Things They Did For Me Out of Love”, co-produced with PC Music’s Danny L Harle.
It’s a four-hour, forty-four-minute epic, its cycles of brooding, foreboding soundscapes and bright crescendos punctuated by sounds of water and wind. Few songs this long have proven this captivating. And, if you strain, you can almost make out yeule whisper-reading their dream diary.
On “Flowers Are Dead“, yeule asks: “What makes you uncomfortable?” and the album answers. This isn’t an easy listen—I fear a content warning for drug abuse, eating disorder, and suicidal ideation is far too late at this point—but all together, Glitch Princess is a profoundly beautiful, if also unsettling, album. It’s equal parts seductive and sinister: a utopia on the precipice of dystopia.
- Country: Singapore/UK
- Label: Bayonet Records