Boomkat Product Review:
'Xen' sets a definitive new apex for 24 y.o. Venezuelan artist Alejandro Ghersi aka Arca following his pivotal production roles on two of the most important hip hop/R&B albums in recent memory; Kanye's 'Yeezus' and FKA Twigs 'EP2' & 'LP1' - plus production work on Bjork;s next album still to come.
Suitably housed among the roster of electronic legends on Mute, it's a nimble leap forward from last year's incredible '&&&&&' mixtape/LP, refracting myriad variations of his chamber-like fusion of vaporwave 'tronics, tarraxho and technoid pop queered with completely unique tunings and rent with exquisite 3D dynamics. We've been smitten with his sound since 2012's 'Stretch' EPs and can safely say it's some of the most compelling, addictive stuff we've heard for years. As with all the best music, it reflects a perspective of its time and place like no other, marking a clear distinction between what came before it, and what's to come. It presents an enchanted view of the world where everything is wonderfully disfigured, skewed from the "norm" - whether that's manifest in his uniquely pitched tunings, the dancer-teasing sense of anticipation to his rhythms, or simply the Alice-like oddness to it all.
And, much like the music of T C F - a readily acknowledged influence upon Arca's sound - this is a form of music which simply could not have existed prior to the development of certain software and DAWs, and it's all the better for it, tweaking each note and drum until they're wincing/winking with pleasure/pain, out of time, out of place, stranded in space and wriggling right under your skin. We could go on (and on) about his genius in the keening R&B/New Age whorls of 'Now You Know', or the spine-tickling slink of 'Slit Thru', the teasing pomp of 'Family Violence', the E+E-styled tarraxho bounce of 'Thievery', or the mind-bending timbres of 'Tongue' and the teetering structures of 'Promise', but we'll shut up now and leave you in thrall to its sheer synthetic sensuality and spectrum of achingly human emotions.