Showing posts with label arca. Show all posts
Showing posts with label arca. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

video review: 'arca' by arca

Well, this was... not as thrilling as I'd expect. Eh, it happens, I guess, but still, peculiar all the same.

Next up is Billboard BREAKDOWN - and it's going to be long - and then FINALLY Jason Eady, so stay tuned!

Monday, April 24, 2017

album review: 'arca' by arca

As an artist, I find Arca profoundly frustrating.

I mean, when it comes to experimentation in modern electronic music, you can make a real argument that this Venezuelan producer is pushing into some intense, experimental territory, full of melodic dissonance, off-kilter tunings, atmosphere that is warped and contorted into potent sonic experiences. He's a defiantly unique producer with a distinct sound and style - and yet he's also the sort that frustrates me to no end. See, going back over Xen and Mutant, I keep circling back that despite all of the wild twists and turns, Arca is often at his best when he grounds his experimentation in progressions that add some real foundation. And sure, that might potentially deflect from the raw outpouring of organic feeling and emotion as he describes his music, but you eventually you hearing the patterns, and that sort of semi-improvised style doesn't wow you in the same way.

And thus I had a lot of mixed feelings going into his third album, which is self-titled primarily because, like his early demos, he's choosing to sing on it, reportedly inspired by his friend and collaborator Bjork and her encouragement. Now I have a tremendous amount of respect for Bjork, and her unearthly ability to pull out stunning music, and she clearly sees a ton of potential in Arca. But here's the catch: Arca reportedly chose with only one exception to improvise all of the lyrics on the album... which would probably make sense given his style of melodic composition, but also could reflect a lack of greater refinement - and that concerned me, because thus far Arca had not shown enough to convince me he could carry an album like this on pure, organic, spontaneous talent. That said, he's way too unique to disregard, so how did this self-titled project turn out?

Monday, November 30, 2015

video review: 'mutant' by arca

And that's two. Whew, glad I can get these out of the way before Billboard BREAKDOWN tomorrow - stay tuned!

album review: 'mutant' by arca

When I reviewed Arca's debut album Xen last year, I went in expecting dissonance. I was prepared for harsh blasts of abrasion and intense sounds that would push the bounds of listenability, the sort of experimental electronica that will alienate nearly everyone except the most hardened of critics and fans.

But that wasn't exactly what I got. Arca's distinctive brand of electronica went in a different, yet not less dissonant direction: wild tempo changes, off-kilter melodies, awkward tunings, gorgeous atmosphere and gleaming classical instrumentation contorted through strange, warping progressions. It was the sort of the music that could easily be branded by a classicist as incompetent instead of transcendent, but somehow Arca mostly stuck the landing, even if I did wish that he could pair his bizarre melodic choices with more of a foundation in the actual beats and percussion.

So fast forward to now, and Arca has a new record titled Mutant, which promised to be weirder and darker, even blending in elements of industrial noise music. Now immediately I thought this was a good idea - my favourite track off of Xen had been 'Bullet Chained' because it had managed to fuse that textured atmosphere with a clanking progression that roiled and spooled like the titular tool, and if Arca was going more in that direction, we could get something very strong here. And considering I've spent the majority of this year delving into more abrasive and experimental music than ever before, I was excited to check out Mutant - what did I get?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

video review: 'xen' by arca

Well, this required a second upload to get right, but I'm glad that I got a chance to talk about it. Fascinating listen.

Okay, next up will either be You + Me or Teyana Taylor, so stay tuned!

album review: 'xen' by arca

Let's talk a bit about abrasive sounds in music.

It's been a conversation ever since the beginning of recorded music, the artists who are willing to push the boundaries of what are considered traditionally 'acceptable' to the ears of the public. Forget the explosive crunch of metal or the harsh mechanical sounds of industrial or the raw edge of punk or the choppy sampling of early hip-hop, there were points where the distorted guitars of early rock or the experimentation of jazz was too much of a departure for listeners. The evolution of what has been considered traditionally listenable is a growing one, and with every year it seems to expand even further, from the raucous screams of black metal to the harsh blasts of static you get from a group like Clipping to the experimental explosive power of an act like Swans. Hell, there are acts in the power electronics genre that specifically focus on making the most explosive, abrasive, uncomfortable music possible for anyone to listen through.

Now for me, abrasion for its own sake has a place, but I'll also admit that I prefer music to have melody or at least enough texture to justify the usage of the abrasion as a complete piece. Noise without cohesion for its own sake is precisely that - noise. My challenge has always been finding that cohesion within the sound, if indeed it exists - because let's make this clear, this sort of abrasive sound isn't going away any time soon.

This takes us to producer Arca, most well known outside of electronic music circles as working with Kanye West on Yeezus and FKA Twigs on LP1. And going into his full-length debut, I was not precisely sure what was coming. His early work was defined by pitch shifted vocals, eerie synths, and moments that pushed the edges of what was conventionally listenable - in other words, I had a real challenge on my hands. So with a certain amount of hesitation, I checked out his debut album Xen - what did I find?