Dark pop pioneer KLEOPATRA has enlisted several music journalists in a euphonic deep dive into her inspirations through a carefully curated Spotify playlist. The objective is to analyse the content of said playlist, which was used as inspiration for her upcoming EP titled “Machina” and predict the direction said EP will take musically and thematically. I assumed this would be a simple task; but cracking the Machina code soon became an obsession.
If an artist is inspired by sad songs, it is a logical assumption that their music will also adhere to the conventions of sadness, emotion after all motivates art. However, human emotions do not apply in this context, because KLEOPATRA is a performance android, separated from the relative norms of humanity by innovative programming. My attempt at cracking this enigma of a code started with the music but progressed into a thought experiment surrounding the sentience of artificial intelligence.
I cannot guarantee any accuracy in my predictions, but I can guarantee that KLEOPATRA will compel you to join the Android Revolution.
First up is “Click” by Charli XCX featuring Kim Petras and Tommy Cash. This starts the playlist off with a bang, indicating that KLEOPATRA is not messing around with the intensity of her upcoming EP. With an emphasis on repetition and the addition of some particularly jarring electronica especially as the track reaches the end, this hints that Machina will follow a similar path.
“Party Monster” by The Weeknd followed next. Far mellower than the previous song, “Party Monster” delves into the paranoia that stems from recreational drug use and party culture. Perhaps KLEOPATRA’S new release will explore a more paranoid android?
I was super excited to see Grimes up next on the playlist with “Violence”. When interviewed about the meaning behind the album this track is on, Grimes stated that it is “about the anthropomorphic Goddess of climate change: A psychedelic, space-dwelling demon/ beauty-Queen who relishes the end of the world.” KLEOPATRA has previously utilised dystopian imagery and themes therefore the inclusion of “Violence” indicates that KLEOPATRA is not going to shy away from using her musical platform to discuss issues surrounding climate change and the decline of society as we know it. Grimes takes on a persona, as does KLEOPATRA. Based on this, I think “Machina” will allow the listener to take another step into her futuristic realm.
Charlie XCX returns with “Cross You Out” featuring Sky Ferreira. This song, along with the playlist as a whole, puts women to the front. “Cross you Out” deals with the emotion following a breakup, and like some of the other songs in the code, heavily focuses on repetition making for a catchy and memorable listen. I am certain that KLEOPATRA will make use of catchy hooks and refrains, and modified vocals to really create a sense of immersion into her android psyche.
The midway point of the playlist features “We Appreciate Power” by none other than Grimes. This song was the beginning of the rabbit hole into the Machina code for me, as it creates an interesting thematic juxtaposition between android programming and human emotion and contextualises the tracks that came before. The distinct nu-metal sound, coupled with scream-like vocals works well with KLEOPATRA’S current vibe, and shows that her music is influenced from several different genres of music that come together to create a unique fusion of styles. The lyric that stuck out for me was “Biology is superficial, intelligence is artificial.” I can sense a recurring theme that I am certain will make an appearance in “Machina.”
Next up is my personal favourite track on the playlist, “Faceshopping” by SOPHIE. From the outset, the eerie tone of this song is instantly memorable. The percussive elements are so unusual, mimicking the metallic clanging of something being built. Equal parts playful and jarring, “Faceshopping” has elements that are reminiscent of nursery rhymes, but I do not think this alludes so much to childhood as it does to a rebirth, or remodelling of KLEOPATRA’S android personality. This song features a haunting section that is so far removed from the emotionless and cold tone. Monotone spoken vocals are replaced with and outcry of emotion that I can only describe as how an android might cry. It quickly returns to the spooky electronica from before, but illustrated an unforgettable dive into the inner workings, not the “shop front” that we first see.
Grimes makes her third appearance with “My Name is Dark.” Grimes’ vocals are a lot more natural here, indicating that “Machina” might take a similar approach. A distinct guitar riff and punchy drumbeat change the tone from the previous tracks that feature heavy use of electronics, and hints that elements of the EP may be a lot more grounded.
Poppy takes the eighth spot on the playlist. I have followed Poppy for a significant amount of time and was really excited here. Poppy and KLEOPATRA both transcend the norms of musicians, adopting distinctive personas that make for performance art. “Voicemail” is nothing short of intense. Revisiting the previous allusions to paranoia, this track is a high-octane mix of sounds that create a sense of disorientation.
“Guttersnake” by Honey Claws takes the penultimate spot in the Machina code. Another addition of rap which would be an interesting inclusion on the EP, and could really compliment the android persona of KLEOPATRA. Guitar features prominently again here, indicating more exciting collaboration between KLEOPATRA and Carbrain.
Finally, Grimes returns with “So Heavy I Fell Through the Earth.” Dealing with the oppression and mistreatment of women in a melancholy climax to the code. I think KLEOPATRA will explore the emotional highs and lows of humanity but through the perceptive lens of an android. The playlist as a whole follows an uneven trajectory, bouncing from intensely confusing tracks, to more heartfelt mellow ones, exploring both the concepts of power and self-assertion, and self-doubt.
Regardless of how accurate my predictions are, “Machina” will surely be more than just an EP. KLEOPATRA’s work is an immersive experience that transports the listener to a dystopian future and she is programmed for success. The release date for “Machina” is Friday the 18th of September, I highly recommend checking out this artist and joining the android revolution.
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