Zheani

I Hate People On The Internet, the 2022 EP by Brisbane-based singer, songwriter and producer Zheani Sparkes, ended with a song that found solace in nihilism. “We know life’s not fair now, baby, don’t be scared now,” she sang on “We’re All Going To Die,” “We’re all going there and we’ll be happy there.” After a record that drew power from strife and hatred, it was a surprising twist—an acknowledgement that if this world is, indeed, bullshit, ending in death for those good and bad alike, we might as well just accept it.

The Spiritual Meat Grinder, Zheani’s follow-up mixtape, leans full-tilt into this realisation. It’s a party record for the end of the world that tips its hat toward the futility of life—while inviting you to “bring wet cunt to the dancefloor” as a means of coping. We live inside the Spiritual Meat Grinder every damn day, so why not have a little fun with it? “When you’re in The Spiritual Meat Grinder spiralling in the absurd you may as well be a freak and have a good time,” says Zheani. “If you’re in Sodom and Gomorrah and can’t escape, you may as well be at the drunken orgy when the fire and brimstone starts to fall.”

The Spiritual Meat Grinder represents a new mode for Zheani: in contrast to I Hate People On The Internet, a raw contusion of a record, this mixtape makes room for ethereal synth-pop, rib-rattling house music, and crystalline beats inspired by jungle and drum’n’bass. Zheani describes the experience as “a party where you release your inhibitions – but with occasional mental breakdowns in the bathroom”—a glamorous, hedonistic take on Homer’s Odyssey that finds its protagonist battling through raging parties and familial trauma in an effort to find her way home.

True to that concept, The Spiritual Meat Grinder oscillates freely between pain and pleasure, finding truth in songs about sex and romance (“What’s it worth if I cannot hold you/All night long/And eat you up whole?” she asks on “Touch of Grass”) and catharsis in tracks like “Growing Pains,” one of the most emotionally raw songs Zheani has ever written. Forays into dance music on songs like “Bring Wet Cunt” show off Zheani’s remarkable talent for booming, hard-driving big-tent tracks, the aerodynamic intensity of I Hate People On The Internet channelled into a song that’s crackling and anthemic.

Ultimately, The Spiritual Meat Grinder represents a moment of rare respite for Zheani – a document of a musician using hedonism and lithe, hellish beats as a buoy against a world that remains buffeting and brutal. “What I can say is that this project, unlike others, was intentional and not just reactionary. I’m learning to steer the ship and that’s liberating,” says Zheani. “I want to have fun and I’m at least trying to aim for it rather than just being caught in a storm, fighting to hold on.”

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