- Formlessness and mutability are key dimensions of Alejandro Ghersi's music, so it's no wonder that his best recent work has arrived outside the usual album format. For many, the best introduction to Arca as a solo artist was the dizzying 25-minute mixtape &&&&&, which helped turn him from an intriguing producer for other artists (including Kanye West) into a remarkable force in his own right. Following two uneven albums for Mute, Ghersi returns to the mixtape format with Entrañas, which features some of his most arresting and unsettling work since &&&&&.
Like its predecessor, Entrañas ("entrails") stitches together 14 tracks into a wobbly mass of sound. It starts off slow and staticky, full of Ghersi's trademarked queasy vocal manipulations, before the moans are replaced by the grunts and bleats of farmyard animals. The use of animal sounds as percussion sounds silly on paper, but in Ghersi's hands they sound visceral—on top of jackhammering, experimental club music, the barn chorus sounds like the bloody chaos of an abattoir.
Even if Ghersi's sound is as goopy as ever here, there are also striking moments of angularity and sharpness. At one point, slowed-down drums try to slice through the viscous murk. Later, an industrial rhythm forces its way past a sequence where Ghersi pastes Charlotte Gainsbourg's monologue from Madonna's "What It Feels Like For A Girl" over shrill tones, sounding almost like Rabit by way of classic Nine Inch Nails. Tender vocals from Mica Levi provide a counterpart to the hammering all around her, and later, the haphazard melodies and percussion recall Autechre's controlled discord.
Much of Entrañas seems concerned with pain, force and violence, as well as Ghersi's usual preoccupations with the grotesque. (No surprise, then, that Total Freedom appears.) A later passage features panicked screams that go beyond evoking Ghersi's usual feelings of discomfort and disorientation. But listen carefully and they could just as easily be giddy noises. They're followed by a moment of uneasy peace and a haunting vocal, which Ghersi interrupts with explosions. It's hard to say whether these sounds are celebratory fireworks or bombs ripping through stone and metal, and they end Entrañas on a dumbfounding note, which is the thing about Ghersi's music: restless and malleable, it slips through your fingers before you can figure out what's going on.
05. Cement Garden Interlude
06. Baby Doll feat. Mica Levi
08. Think Of feat. Mica Levi & Massacooraman
11. Turnt feat. Total Freedom
14. Sin Rumbo