"Trans is the whereness of withness."
- Eva Hayward, attributed by Elysia Crampton

"[A]nd he dropped like an ash tree / which, on the crest of a mountain glittering far about, cut down / with the bronze axe scatters on the ground its delicate leafage."
- Homer, Iliad

"The depressive position is a site of potentiality and not simply a breakdown of the self or the social fabric. Reparation is part of the depressive position; it signals a certain kind of hope."
- Jose Esteban Muñoz, Feeling Brown, Feeling Down: Latina Affect, the Performativity of Race, and the Depressive Position

Ephemera litters Demon City. From grotesquely unfunny laugh tracks to the sputtering radio snippets to the chilling temporal prognosis of The Darkest Hour, fleeting traces, glimmers, residues, and specks of things punctuate the unstable syntax of the epic poem that is Elysia Crampton's sophomore release. And as the clownishly clunky album title explicitly indicates, Elysia Crampton presents Demon City; in the words of José Esteban Muñoz, the critical theorist Crampton frequently mentions in interviews as an inspiration, Demon City coalesces as a series of "queer acts" that Crampton as architect performs. To inhabit Demon City is to navigate its airhorn stabs, its huayno and cumbia cultural psychogeography. To inhabit Demon City is to "navigate futurity" (as Crampton herself designates as an aim for her music) in that the place concretizes a kinetically queer ontology that invites participation. To inhabit Demon City is to Climb: past Sundered rock, past Slough of despond, to slip infinit[el]y into a newly established and transcendent Here.

But Demon City isn't solid like Troy. Unlike that other quintessential setting of epic poetry, Homer's mythical Troy, a locale permanently moored to northwest Anatolia as much by its decaying stone acropolis and crumbling walls as its static locus in the Western cultural imaginary, Demon City breathes, seethes, and squelches. Demon City is unstuck, and it typifies the Muñozian realm of queer performance that exists only in its doing. A caption on a recent Instagram post of Crampton's describes the "beingness" of the indigenous Aymara people as one "signaled historically by roads, not fixed states or points." A counterpoint to the fixity of Homer's Troy, a city besieged for seven nigh-unending years of stalemate, Crampton's Demon City predicates on flux; Demon City's spatial poetics map a "performatively polyvalent" landscape that typifies Muñoz's ephemera as a zone of queer being-qua-doing. Demon City finds its acts rehearsed in the Severo style, "an ongoing process of becoming-with" whose ephemera defy trans and minoritarian erasure.

Yet Crampton and Homer--the two epic poets responsible for the zones of Demon City and Troy--do share some thematic interests. Homer's iconic use of simile, a nearly alchemical bridge transmuting man into flora and rivers into demigods, finds expression in Crampton's Donna Haraway- and José Muñoz-inspired radical reinvisioning of race and species "on a geological level." This reconsideration, this new ontology "ruptures hierarchies and taxonomical divides as we find ourselves already deeply enmeshed in the strangeness and vast timescales of the lithic" as Crampton expounds to Resident Advisor. When Homer's Imbrios the spearfighter receives a fatal blow to the ear, he "drop[s] like an ash tree," his "glittering" ephemerality splaying out beneath Teukros's spear, the simile dismantles arbitrary taxonomical partitions not unlike Crampton's definition of Severo as both "accumulation" and "accretion"--at once traditionally human and traditionally telluric.

Both poets also read the body as the site of epic doing. Depicting the sculpted bodies of the Achaeans and Trojans struggling to mutilate each other, Homer exhibits an anxious remapping of the battlefield from the terrestrial on to the corporeal. Such a move prefigures Crampton's lived architecture of Demon City. As Crampton remarks (citing Eva Hayward) on the aforementioned Instagram post, "trans marks is the whereness of withness;" it, like Demon City and Homer's bodily battlefield, locates and concretizes the unstable beingness of queer ephemera.

The most prominent of these performative ephemera that outline the jutting forms of Demon City is almost ridiculous. It's laughter. From the sinister chuckle-as-booby-prize of the first climax of Irreducible Horizon to the percussive guffaws propelling the chugging, tense rhythmic bounce of 'Dummy Track' to the slapstick boss-battle chortle prefacing 'After Woman' to the barrage of contorted belly laughs issuing from the 'Children from Hell', laughter serves as a performative blueprint to Demon City's dense landscape. A sound produced in a physical, body-heaving motion, laughter again links the sonic backdrop of Demon City to its Muñozian framework of doing. What's more, laughter in Demon City functions as a unique form of communication, a dialectic forged within Crampton's queer ontology that both refuses to participate in the normative linguistic expression co-opted by structures of power through rules of diction and syntax and repudiates the explicit violence of yelling of cursing.

The French word for 'smile,' sourire, literally means underneath the laugh. Beneath Crampton's laughing fit lies a goofy, innocuous grin. But inherent to the smile is a bearing of teeth, a fierce gesture more demonic than mirthful. Ultimately, the tension between the grating metal, warped gunshots, and curdling bass characteristic of collaborators Rabit and Chino Amobi through 'After Woman', 'Dummy Track', 'Demon City', and 'Children of Hell' and the cautiously optimistic symphonic textures of 'Esposas' performs the doubled nature of the "depressive position" that Muñoz suggests as an experiential definition of race in his essay Feeling Brown, Feeling Down: Latina Affect. This depressive position, according to Muñoz, emblematizes a performance of race that establishes commonality through sense and action rather than static identification--much like the ontology of doing that Crampton's Demon City establishes as de facto law. Muñoz characterizes the specific depressive position of brownness as at once a "feeling down" and a "site of potentiality of hope"--two spatial modes actualized by the ugliness of queer violence manifested in Demon City's more unforgiving tracks and the melodic, expansive hopefulness of the latter few. Masterfully orchestrating this diptych--wherein two paintings are technically separated but remain part of a shared frame--of the isolation and pain of systemic and bodily violence and the optimism of a new, collaborative1 queer ontology, of deconstruction and reconstruction, Crampton crystallizes Muñoz's "brown affect" by doing.

A complement to Homer, whose exquisite myth catapulted the bard himself into the realm of myth, Crampton fashions a performative poetics that performs its own brown, queer, and sublime reality. But all she can do is laugh.