Of all the collaborators Kanye West worked with on Yeezus, none was more exciting than Arca. For me, the up-and-coming producer’s involvement was one of the major signals that West’s album would be as intense as promised. If you’re unfamiliar with Arca, I highly recommend you listen to last year’s Stretch 2. The record is barely more than 25 minutes, but any more might have been overwhelming, as Arca’s knotty, dissonant productions often felt like an attack on the listener. It was one of the most aggressively disorienting records you could have heard last year. And now, we’ve got another tape, called &&&&&.
If you were expecting anything along the lines of a post-Yeezus victory lap, or a softer effort since Arca’s big break, prepare to be supremely disappointed (in the best way possible). &&&&& is even darker and denser than the two Stretch records. The rhythms are even more off kilter and imbalanced. Ominous bass-heavy rumbles trade blows with bright chirping synths while samples of rappers are chopped and mangled beyond any comprehension. The best moment for me comes right about 17:00, after the middle section throws you into a canyon of slower, foggier tracks, when a pitch-shifted shout announces a burst of some of the producers best beats so far before setting up a surprisingly pretty finish. In the past, Arca’s music often sounded like the aural equivalent of the impossible shapes found on his record covers, and &&&&&, his best record so far, is just like that image above: grotesque, alien, yet strangely beautiful. Listen, download, and check out the tracklist below.
11. “DM True”
13. “Pure Anna”