Published Oct 31, 2014Xen, the debut from Arca, comes with more built-in pedigree than any album released this year. The 24-year-old producer from Venezuela has lent his production skills to two of the most future releases in recent memory, Kanye West's Yeezus and FKA Twigs' LP1. From note one, Xen challenges those looking for an extension of his production work, as Arca shows the innovation with which he approaches his own craft.
Tracks like "Sisters" and "Wound" are able to roam freely as ideas and musical modes are swiftly presented and dropped with little digression. From the icy "Now You Know" to the respite-funk of "Slit Thru" and the stripped down drill-and-bass of "Fish," Arca seems uninterested in creating a narrative flow, instead focusing on each alien, puzzling, substantial sound and its (often) tense relationship to the next. Fans of his hip-hop and R&B work will certainly be challenged by the sparse and experimental nature of Xen, which makes it one of the most satisfying listens of the year. (Mute)