The self-proclaimed Glitch Princess, Nat Ćmiel, better known by their stage name yeule, is a non-binary London-based painter, musician, performance artist, and cyborg entity, who, with this album, opens up a channel into the in-between spaces to make sense of their identity, which straddles both digital and human landscapes.
Dripping in error messages, glitching computer code and introspective melodies, yeule guides us through their intense and complex connection to virtual realities and the real world as we know it. Glitch Princess maps the artists’ struggle with the push and pulls between their digital vs. enfleshed self. In the past, Ćmiel found themself developing traits of a "hikikomori", a form of severe social withdrawal, where their digital immersion and social isolation led to an interest in augmented realities and a fascination with the psychology behind digital intimacies. This predisposition fuelled Ćmiel’s inclination towards the digital in lieu of reality, and they since found it difficult to regain control within the 3D world.
The friction between these two worlds is rife throughout the album, creating moments of explosive hyper pop euphoria (Bites on My Neck) and complete emotional vulnerability and devastation (Friendly Machine). The machine acts as an “illusion of immortality,” and the deeper you rely on it, the more you sacrifice control of the real world. Lyrics such as “think of my body getting hit by a train,” are deliberately and deeply unsettling, particularly when followed by:
Around my neck, a friendly machine
Pretends to wipe my memory clean
Pretends to make it all go away
Pretends to make me feel quite okay.
Both romanticised and demonised, the cyber dimension acts equally as a solace and a vice. Glitch Princess demands attention, introspection, and immersion – dipping in and out or listening as background noise would be to miss the point entirely.
Whether it is a “good” or “bad” thing to slip away from reality and into the digital spheres remains unresolved, but what we do see is the battle between the two throughout. Being catapulted into a yeule’s cyber kingdom does allow constant transcendence and evolution of identity, yet what it restricts is human connection, balance and control. We feel this as noise and distortion take over in tracks such as Electric and Fragments.
Emo-pop track 'Don't Be So Hard On Your Own Beauty' offers a moment of respite with its playful melodies and peaceful hook, as well as dancehall infused 'Too Dead Inside', despite its somber lyricism. The album also touches upon Ćmiel’s experiences with sobriety, which perhaps most noticeably comes to a head in track 'Mandy' with an outro stating:
We'll make it go away
The pain can go away
They said it'd go away
'Glitch Princess' is an undiluted flood of emotion and a redirection of yeule’s chaotic energy into verse and an opportunity to confront their own vices. As is presented in the opening line of Flowers are Dead, yeule asks us “what makes you uncomfortable?”, and hopefully will continue causing us to question this with many more explorative feats to come.
Words: Megan Warrender
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