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E-Saggila's New Techno Single Feels Like Hardcore With a Concussion

"Viper" is the dark and delirious first track from 'Dedicated to Sublimity,' her debut full-length.
Photo courtesy of the artist.

The darkness that the producer Rita Mikhael explores in the music she makes as E-Saggila a complicated sort. Like a host of the best electronic producers to emerge over the last decade, she organizes techno tropes in brutalist, noisy, often depressing blocks of stifling sound. But where others are content to sit in these bleak, overwhelming washes—which kinda feel like living inside late Rothko paintings—Mikhael’s attention to detail, even from the beginning has always felt more pointilist.


Starting with her releases on her own Summer Isle imprint—but continuing through stops on the tastemaking labels Opal Tapes and Bank Records—she’s found a way to embed a sort of squirmy life in these gloomy pieces, worms wriggling around in the muck. Today, she’s announced that she’s finally taking those efforts into a full-length form; on July 13, she’ll release a record called Dedicated to Sublimity on Bank. It’s at least as heavy as that title suggests, but it’s more than that too.

Mikhael was born in Iraq and moved to Canada just before the U.S. invasion in 2003. She says via email her family was always musically inclined—her father was in an Assyrian folk band and her mother was into singing—and she grew up playing instruments, but didn’t really stick with it until she discovered heavy music in her early teens. “I first heard harsh noise/power electronics when I was in early high school,” She remembers. “I had no clue anything like that existed at that point and it definitely piqued my interest.” She remembers hearing a release from the influential label Broken Flag, which stuck with her, despite her initial reaction.

“My friends at the time thought that shit was stupid and so did I,” she says. “But I guess it’s inaccessibility is what I appreciated about it and made me interested in hearing similar releases. I just couldn’t believe someone could create something so bleak and intense.


Over the years, those descriptors have come to define her own work. First she made more industrial music as RM, but E-Saggila and Summer Isle have dominated her last several years. The project, she says, was initially born from a desire to use Ableton to make something “more complex” in rhythm and structure—which gave the distorted darkness in which she works a strange energy. Many of the sounds she draws on pull from the hardcore continuum—there’s shades of the agitated beats that Lenny Dee might play for instance—but she’s become adept at complicating that formula.

Dedicated to Sublimity is full of new wrinkles to her sound. There’s moments of chiming acidic bliss (“Brunette Cistern) and chaotic vocal mutations (“Your Hole”) and a whole lot else in between. “Viper,” one of the record’s most immediately engaging moments (premiering here), uses a jackhammer of a kick drum and some glitched vocals to explicitly draws on those hardcore connections in a weighty, unsettled way.

“I wanted to make it kind of uncomfortable and eerie where the drums hit your chest,” Mikhael says. “I left the drums more present in the mix to sort of recreate the feeling of being at a club and the music is so punishingly loud that you can’t even get a word out to someone.”

It’s nightmarish in that way, but as the record’s title suggests, there are moments of transcendence on the track too. In its pummeling repetition there’s a sort of ecstasy, the sort of dull, dreamy fog and squealing tinnitus you experience after a sharp, unexpected knock to the head. Mikhael says these dueling feelings, the joy and the pain, are the result of the long, exacting process that birthed the record.


“It’s definitely chaotic trying to put together a full-length record, but the constant drive to improve and find new production methods to create that perfect track ultimately results in something beautiful,” she says. “I feel as though combining both chaotic and rigid production elements helped to create a sublime formula for this record.”

Dedicated to Sublimity tracklist:
1. Brunette Cistern
2. Glass Wing
3. Reputation
4. Strive for Action
5. Viper
6. Your Hole

Dedicated to Sublimity art:

E-Saggila's Dedicated to Sublimity is out July 13 on Bank. She plays New York's great Technofeminism party on May 25.