Arca – Xen (Mute, 2014)
I’ll put aside the fact that Arca (Alejandro Ghersi) has worked on a few Kanye West & FKA Twigs tracks (mostly because I don’t give a dime about any of them). The fact that he’s doing his magic on the new Björk record is something that touches me a bit more, but I’ll put that aside as well.
I want to look at ‘Xen’ solely observing (and absorbing) the result of the work of someone, who has something to say with his music and is not just a person with a neat CV in the current music biz.
‘Xen’ is an abstract, perfectly polished and surely fancy record, which for a bit over a month did score quite some appraisal from the hip zines. Lingering between the extremes of experimental, yet pretty accessible contemporary electronic music, Arca’s debut LP is quite a varying listen. It’s loud, mostly aggressive, even if sometimes it calms down to showcase a way more textural and mellow side of Alejandro’s music.
Arca is quite crafty at building immense sounds that can channel an even more immense specter of emotions. When I put that record in my iPod I was shocked to find 15 tracks on the record and I was actually prepared for quite a boring trip. However, the pieces are pretty short so you won’t spend too much time listening to the album, rather it’s the moods that change too much I guess.
That’s somehow related to my main issue with the album. Yeah, I can hear a lot of stuff in this album which I suppose will be copied by new artists to come. So you can definitely expect Arca’s eclectic rhythmic patterns, weird orchestrations, and in general his kind of ‘broken’ approach to sound, taken up and developed. I can see some trends being set with this debut LP, but it slightly puts me off that this doesn’t really feel like an album in the sense of presenting something coherent and thorough.
Instead ‘Xen’ feels more as a portfolio. It says ‘I can do this and I can do that, and I’m equally good in all of it’. But still I’d prefer if it said ‘Here’s my vision for the world and for music, I really wanted to tell this or that story to the universe of listeners’.
But I suppose moving from the role of a producer to a fully developed artist takes more time. So yes, I’m looking forward to a new Arca full-length as the technical side here is awesome, but I lack a deeper meaning. No matter how elitist I may sound.
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