Arca – Mutant Review

Alejandro Ghersi is a London based Venezuelan record producer and DJ better known by his stage name Arca. Having worked with artists such as Kanye West, producing 4 tracks on his ‘Yeezus’ album, as a producer for FKA Twigs on ‘EP2’ and co producing Bjork’s ninth album ‘Vulnicura’, Arca has now turned his attention to his own production work. Released in November 2015 on Mute records, ‘Mutant’ is Arca’s second full-length album following on from Xen in 2014.

Ghersi’s work as Arca is often defined above all by its fluidity and flexibility, drawing on numerous styles to create a deeply organic sound that has become synonymous with the Venezuelan producer. The album opens up with the fast paced, twitching synths of ‘Alive’, a track which never seems to stay still or settle into a traditional rhythm, bouncing around without a clear linear passage to follow. Track lengths vary in length from over 7 minutes in the dystopian vision of the second track ‘Mutant’ to under a minute for tracks such as ‘Beacon’ and ‘Siren Interlude’. The whole album is one centered around the capabilities of electronics and the sounds they have to offer, whilst avoiding the traditional concepts of electronic music such as its hard drum beats, whilst simultaneously offering a more experimental, perhaps almost ambient presentation in its layout and construction. The album consists of 21 songs, so not the average amount for a stereotypical album, with the tracks feeling more like one long suite instead of 21 individual tracks. The album and sounds throughout show a clear experimental concept, songs seem to merge in between one another with no clear linear vision of where the album is headed. Tracks such as ‘Umbilical’ offer cold hard electronics with repeated vocal loops seemingly the only connection to life on planet earth. The album doesn’t adhere to the stereotypical concept of what an album should be, offering up a small slice of the strange accompanied with experimental electronics and warped sounds. The whole album isn’t an easy listen, it does however feel alive, like a living thing, vibrant, different strange, and slightly surreal to listen to. There is a sense of the extreme; everything from the layout, to the sounds, to the concept of the album feels different to what should be expected from electronic music. Ghersi certainly isn’t following any ‘How To’ manual when writing and producing his work, blurring the lines between experimental sounds and the capabilities it holds, pushing the boundaries of the listener’s expectations. The whole album feels a distorted and removed from reality, a concept that works very well, to some extent the album may not be an enjoyable listen in the traditional sense of melodies and hooks, but it does offer up an alternative style that pushes the boundaries of electronic music.

Mutant is out now on Mute records.

Arca – Mutant = 8/10

 

 

Matthew Kay

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