“One has been divided into yin, the female principle and yan, the male principle, and these two have joined and out of their junction has come a third.” Last year, California-born South East Asian musician Ana Roxanne came out as intersex, an individual that has mixed gender characteristics and chromosomes and the first track of her second album Because Of A Flower, the spoken word narration ‘Untitled’, seems to touch upon this subject in both a direct and spiritual manner. It’s just an introduction in the world of Ana Roxanne. A fragile, transcendental, enigmatic place – just as mysterious as her minimal media presence and track titles – created by ambient drone soundscapes, layers of overlapping ethereal humming that border on the idioglossic, and accompanied by drum machines and soundclips.
Due to little movement in the progression of the tracks (the vaguely titled ‘—‘ being the best example of this), Because A Flower is not appropriate for a background listen, as it is prone to fading away unnoticed. It requires a patience mindset, repeated listens and headphones to enjoy its qualities. But perhaps that is the point. Calling one of her tracks ‘Suite Pour L’invisible’ (Suite for the invisible) is perhaps stating that she represents the forgotten hard-to-categorize people and this form of quiet music helps bring upon that idea.
The songs on Because of a Flower may not change shape much within tracks but that’s not to say they don’t vary. The guitar on ‘Take The Thorn, Leave The Rose’ sounds like it could accompany two cowboys making their way to a Western cinema duel, before the most vunreble moment appears on the LP as we hear Ana Roxanne perform in a static-filled low-fi setting. ‘Camille’ features an argument between two French women taken from a movie encircled by Roxanne’s soothing sways. One of the album best tracks ‘Venus’ showcases water through field recordings, as the Los Angeles resident reads from a textbook that describes the elements in a beautiful poetic way. Wonderfully reminiscent of a hymn from Julia Holter’s experimental 2018 album Aviary, ‘Venus’ is perhaps the only track other than the intro that addresses Ana Roxanne’s thoughts about her gender and her dream for acceptance. She describes how the “sea refuses passage to no-one” and that “water accepts all walks of life.” Before later admitting that “in this vessel, I must stay true to the part of me that cannot be held, to the part of me that is beyond touch.”
Fans of Lisa Gerrard’s one-of-a-kind otherworldly vocals in Gladiator and Man on Fire, will appreciate Ana Roxanne’s similar vocal abilities, but others may be a little disappointed by the lack of clear references to her intersex experience, a potentially strong subject that is said to inspire her album. Nonetheless, it’s ok that Because of a Flower is creatively cryptic, and it’s a delight to enter her meditative world, an invigorating calmness that most us need right now.