Words By: Drew Krapljanov
For those of you who don’t know who Arca is, you may have heard him before without even knowing. A wildly experimentation producer, he has worked with the likes of Kanye West (on his most recent release Yeezus), FKA twigs on EP2 and her groundbreaking LP1 and recently collaborated with Bjork on her stunning 2015 release, Vulnicura. Not only a collaborating producer, he dropped his first official full length in 2014 with the relentless, Xen.
Arca is back now with the sprawling and dense Mutant, which clocks at roughly an hour in runtime. While it may not immediate at first, Mutant is more spacious and patient than it’s predecessor Xen relying on more than just an overwhelming cacophony of noise.
The album kicks of with ‘Alive’, a bewildering and tense introduction to the album that builds unpredictably before leading into a lush closing section. The stuttering samples and meandering direction of the track make the dramatic intention unclear. The enormous title track, ‘Mutant’ starts off with a sparse rumble that builds with abstract glitch-y stutters. The sudden stopping and starting of the soundscape allows the onslaught of samples to work together nicely and breathe with a hypnotic rhythm. The songs final section patiently builds, moving seamlessly from a gruesome tense beginning of white noise and synth stabs to a beautiful and surprisingly colourful outro.
If there is anything to take from the album’s title track, it is that Arca’s willingness to experiment with pacing and dissonance succeeds in creating an eclectic, uncompromising and engaging listen.
The brutal and violent Sinner showcases Arca’s awareness of the effects Space can have on a tracks dramatic impact. The song begins with a pitch-shifted sample that sounds like it is gasping for air. It paces itself nicely, taking from the intense stopping and starting of Mutant that allows the introduction to keep you guessing right up until it begins to pile on blood pumping, driving thuds and spirals gradually out of control.
The album features a variety of eclectic soundscapes shift between grotesque, lumbering onslaughts of noise, hauntingly beautiful and patient ambient soundscapes and even to elements of World Music.
‘Front Load’ successfully combines World Music influences with Arca’s hefty electronic production with surprising results. Warm and colour synths shimmer through the thin clicks and clacks of percussion, and is accompanied by a string section that brings melodic depth to the rich and beautiful synth chords.
Arca’s Mutant is appropriately named. It is monstrous, terrifying, ambitious and chaotic. The album may be cumbersome to some, but it’s variety keeps the album engaging and the beautiful moments make it breathtaking and thought provoking.
Highlights: Else, Mutant, Sever, Frontload.
You May Also Like: Oneohtrix Point Never, Nobukazu Takemura, Baths.