Published Nov 18, 2015Arca is impossible to ignore. He's had a hand in some of the best releases of the last few years — Kanye West's Yeezus, FKA twigs' LP1, Björk's Vulnicura and the outstanding new Hallucinogen EP from Kelela — not to mention the fact that he's managed to cultivate a wholly unique sound in the densely populated musical world. Unlike his collaborative projects, his solo work is a feverish dismantling of familiar genres like R&B, hip-hop and industrial, as he transforms them into distinct creations that only bear faint signifiers from the original context.
In this sense, Mutant is a lot like Arca's previous releases. The growling fuzz of "Sinner" could almost fool you into expectations of a drum & bass drop, were it not for the track's seemingly unstoppable transformation into a vast pummelling machine. "Anger," meanwhile, boasts Latin flair from the offset, but quickly morphs into a wall of hostility before being slowly dragged to the ocean floor by some unknown force. Then there's the title track which, along with several others, is so texturally abrasive and constantly shifting that it takes a huge effort to get a foothold on.
An easy listen, Mutant is not. Its powerful tectonic plates form towering structures that loom impossibly before disintegrating into fine mist, which then coagulates into amorphous blobs that eventually take the form of bewildering forms and creatures — and so it goes. The album creaks and shifts incessantly. It evolves. As the title suggests, it mutates.
The result of this endless metamorphosis — it's over an hour long — is an album that is eventually rewarding, but only to those who are determined to follow its scattered pathway to the satisfying, aggregate end. It seems Arca is overloaded with too many ideas when left to his own devices. As such Mutant ably demonstrates the producer's extreme talent, but suggest it works even better when he's grounded by the restrictions of a collaborating artist. (Mute)