Aerea Negrot, perhaps best known for her collaboration with New York DJ Andy Butler’s ever-experimental collective Hercules and Love Affair (with whom she sang as well as danced), has finally branched out into solo territory with the genre-bending Arabxilla, produced by Tobias Freund and released in September 2011 on BPitch Control. The reputable German electronic label (founded by one of the most respected names in Berlin’s famed electronic music community, DJ/producer Ellen Allien) seems the perfect fit for hard-to-place Negrot, as both tread far beyond the beaten path.
Born in Venezuela to competitive dancer parents, Negrot went on to live in Portugal, Holland and most recently London, before settling down in Berlin, which she now calls home. Her self-constructed pedigree is apparent on the album in the way she shifts effortlessly between languages as well as musical styles, from minimal ambience to operatic overture.
The album opens with the aptly titled “Bipolintro”, setting the stage for mood swings to come with promises of the happiness of “ice cream!” and the heartbreak of “loooove…” A plethora of characters perform in a variety of costumes, each another reincarnation of the sexually ambiguous chameleon that is Aerea Negrot. To experience it live with outfit changes would be other-worldly. As is its star. She is fierce and vulnerable, a promiscuous party-girl (“high heels, condoms, corsets”) and a love-lorn romantic all at once.
The Kalkenbrenner-esque “It’s Love, Lover” is heartbreaking and haunting, not unlike the opera Negrot was classically trained for. The diva displays an impressive vocal range with which to relay her emotional turmoil. You too long for lover to “Please Move to Berlin”. It is not all tortured matters of the heart though. According to Negrot, “Every normal woman on Earth, should complain about her hair.” She is as likely to express her distaste for a long-distance relationship as she is to wax poetic about tress-related stress, as she does with “Hair”. (“If she has the curls, she wants it straight. If she has it black, she wants it red.”)
Overall a promising debut from this multi-faceted and talented artist. Like the lover whose scent she cannot seem to wash out of her sheets, Aerea Negrot will not soon be forgotten.