Since 2016, Los Angeles-based multimedia artist, Cruel Diagonals (aka Megan Mitchell), has been creating critically acclaimed experimental electronic music and intriguing visuals. Though classically trained as a vocalist and well-versed in jazz standards as a youth, Cruel Diagonals applies her brilliant voice to compositions and improvisations that are the antithesis of staid tradition or arid academic exercises. Rather, she optimizes her minimal gear setup with an instinctual adventurousness and an acute sense of the most chilling and moving atmospheres and timbres, favoring fluidity of tones over the grid-like modes of much electronic music. Cruel Diagonals augments these elements with exquisite vocalizations and field recording extracted from decrepit industrial sites and West Coast nature zones in order to reveal their expressive properties, thereby forging a unique sonic palette.
These skills first manifested on her 2018 debut album, Disambiguation (Drawing Room), which earned rave reviews in The Wire, Pitchfork, NPR, and other publications. Cruel Diagonals' sublime live performances include her own abstract visuals that act as an “interwoven, continuous narrative” to her music. You can sense geometry and geology intersecting, the organic and the inorganic melding. These mesmerizing, riveting shows led to Cruel Diagonals getting booked at the prestigious MUTEK.SF and Desert Daze festivals in 2019.
Cruel Diagonals has gone on to record for respected labels Longform Editions and Doom Trip while taking her sound into deeper strata of textural complexity and vocal dexterity. Marked by a grave ethereality, releases such as Pulse Of Indignation (2018), Monolithic Nuance (2018), and A Dormant Vigor (2021) feature beautiful singing amid discordant, sinister electronics. In these stark contrasts, you can hear an artist fighting to transcend psychic and physical trauma, finessing a path to inner peace. Making the ineffable deeply intimate, Cruel Diagonals is a surrealist sound sorcerer who is just beginning to journey through labyrinths of her own enigmatic design.
-Dave Segal, 2021