MUTANT by Arca
Favorite Tracks: “Mutant,” “Sinner,” “Sever,” “Snakes,” “Front Load,” “Gratitud,” “En,” “Extent,” “Enveloped,” “Soichiro”
This album will clear your sinuses. Alejandro Ghersi’s 20-track monster features warbling pitch shifted piano and strings, unintelligible vocals used as instrumentation instead of linguistics, and unearthly production. It feels like dying and recombining with the whole of reality for a little while, returning to a new body by the end. You go to heaven and it’s so unfathomably different from any bodily experience you’ve had that you spend the whole time there lost and confused; dejected, you decide to return to an Earthly body of the familiar.
This will be Ghersi’s fourth release of the year, following the release of the SHEEP mixtape used for a Hood By Air fashion week show in early 2015. Next was VULNICURA, the ninth studio release from Bjork which Ghersi co-produced, save for the opening and closing tracks. Third was Ghersi’s collaboration with HBA director Shayne Oliver under the name Wench on the fifteen minute mix GALVANIZE, accompanied with visuals by Jesse Kanda; a debut LP is said to be coming sometime next year. It should also be mentioned that Ghersi was featured on the track “Pagans” off Dean Blunt’s most recent mixtape, UK2UK.
Tracks and samples used on the SHEEP and &&&&& mixtapes are peppered throughout but remain sparse. Most of the album is new material; there are just a few familiar spaces from Ghersi’s recent work. Speaking of peppers, this album sounds like what snorting ground red peppers for an hour must feel like, and I mean that in the best way possible, as this LP just continues to blow away and rip apart throughout its entire runtime.
“Sever” and “Gratitud” feature some of the most beautiful piano/string sections in Ghersi’s catalog hands down, likely a continuation of his work with Bjork on VULNICURA.
The sounds of actual beat oriented music that Ghersi dabbled with early in his career rarely come into play on MUTANT; they hardly need to. Though on a track like “Enveloped”, the beats subtly play along with the near-randomly-generated string pitches that crawl across the soundscape, creating an experience as down to Earth as it is aloof.
“Front Load” features some beats as well, but again in such a subtle way that they just help push the track along while the synths and ambiance take over. The video for “Front Load” features Ghersi’s genitals underwater with some pomegranate seeds thrown in the mix, offering a grotesquely beautiful depiction of this album’s sound. As off-putting as that may sound, the direction Ghersi and visual collaborator Jesse Kanda are pushing for is to show the true beauty in things that at first come off as taboo or disgusting, and can be seen present all throughout the visual history of Ghersi and Kanda’s work.
“En”, while being somewhat of a re-release of the version on SHEEP, sounds more like a development on the original piece. And it is just lovely the way the midrange vocals are tossed back and forth while the high pitched crushes and heavenly piano riffs let the track soar out into its own pocket universe.
It’s actually really hard to stop gushing over this album. “Extent” is literally the musical embodiment of getting goosebumps from listening to music, very much like being half an hour into meditating and solemnly closing off a mountain’s peak into a void of bliss.
The vocals on “Faggot” almost have a solemn tone to them – as if in grief or agony – and as the percussive blasts get more intense and rhythmic they build up such a tension that when they break off into the start of “Soichiro”, it’s almost like getting a shot of euphoria so strong it mends bones. Speaking of which, that theme seems to run all throughout MUTANT. As if the character of the music that was introverted and introspective on XEN, Ghersi’s debut LP, is now undergoing full-blown growing pains and is stretching its skin and pulling its guts and bones out through its mouth and reconfiguring them to create this ever-growing, extroverted, personal demon that is MUTANT.
This only makes me more excited for Ghersi’s next release; seeing what an explosion MUTANT is, I have strong faith his next effort will push the boundaries of MUTANT to an unforeseeable extent. But then again, no one can assume the direction of Ghersi’s sound – exemplified by his break from beat music with the release of XEN – one can only sit and wait for the next batch of sounds to drop.