In a world where sudden album drops are becoming the norm, with artists like Beyoncé releasing full albums unannounced, there are still some artists who surprise their fans. Electronic avant-garde artist Arca released an mixtape, titled Entrañas, yesterday (July 4th) with only a video for the final track as a preview the day before.
Arca has made a name for himself in the electronic world, as a producer on Kanye West’s Yeesus, Björk’s Vulnicura and FKA Twigs’ EP2. He had announced earlier this year that his third album, titled Reverie, is complete and awaiting a release date.The thing that separates this release from other unannounced album drops is the fact that Arca put it up on his Soundcloud page for free.
Entrañas, which can be viewed as one long 25-minute track, has a tracklist that gives a name to each “section” of the mixtape. This creates 14 songs, blended together seamlessly and embodying the title, which is Spanish for “entrails”. With that in mind, the listener can see how each part can stand alone, but is more complete as the whole collection, the same way our organs can be viewed as separate, but need each other to function successfully.
- Cement Garden interlude
- Baby Doll (ft. Mica Levi)
- Think of (ft. Mica Levi & Massacooramaan)
- Turnt (ft. Total Freedom)
- Sin Rumbo
The mixtape starts off a bit more ambient, with echoing tones alternating back and forth between the speakers. It crescendos into more distorted synths and rumbling bass, with the distinct chimes found in many Arca songs from his previous albums Xen and Mutant. The bass suddenly takes over and becomes quite harsh in tone and carries a melody, while cutting off in parts. At a sudden crash, muffled vocals are introduced, leading into deep, booming notes creating a march-like rhythm. The weird factor is bumped up high at this point with very sexual moans and sighs, which combined with a rising and eventually falling drone, leading to a build of crashes and a sharp crackle that cuts off to a split-second of a human chuckle. This is all in just the first two minutes.
I won’t go through each part in detail, but I’ll point out highlights. There is a section, starting just before the 4-minute mark, that has a thumping mechanical bass and echoing chimes that remind me of some tracks from Xen, while bringing in the more upfront nature of Mutant. The monologue in the one section that is distorted and accompanied by melodic hollow notes and an abrasive set of beats is taken from the movie “The Cement Garden”, where Charlotte Gainsbourg’s character Julie says,
Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short, wear shirts and boots, because it’s OK to be a boy, but for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, because you think that being a girl is degrading. But secretly you’d love to know what it’s like, wouldn’t you? What it feels like for a girl?
This is a very smart quote to use, because Arca is known to blur the gender binary, by wearing female lingerie during live shows and in many music videos.
Just after the 10-minute mark, the mixtape becomes literally industrial, with mechanical noises being altered and set to make an upbeat rhythm. This is contrasted by growing and fading high tones, regularly found in Arca’s music.
Arca lends his own voice to different parts, most notably in the 13 and 14-minute parts, singing on top of clangs of metal and sudden cut-offs, creating a skipping or jerking motion. The next part is definitely the weirdest, where there are screams from either a woman or monkeys, it’s hard to tell due to the animalistic nature of the noise. This is contrasted with laughter and applause by people, as if it’s from a performance.
He slows it down with echoing his voice over heavy booming tones and synthesizer strings,creating a haunting feeling, before causing a build in stress in the listener with heavy breathing and forced panting growing in volume around. The final section, named “Sin Rumbo” is mainly Arca singing in Spanish, accompanied by droning bells in the background and jerky bursts of electronic noise every so often. It ends with a flurry of fireworks and explosions, marking the end of an amazing, well-crafted mixtape.
Not sure if this mixtape is a preview of what Reverie is going to be like, but if it is, I’m going to be really happy.