Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Arca: Mutant [Mute, 2015]
Initially, I spun this album to get rid of it--to insure that, as with most unmarked CDs in jewelcases lacking title and slug line, it was safe to stick it where the laser don't shine. Only after I realized how impressed I was by these grooveless, tuneless electronic instrumentals did I make out on the back cover the birthname of my old NYU student Alejandro Ghersi--who as Arca has since become a Yeezus collaborator and Fader cover boy as well as co-producing a Björk album I'll leave to her fanbase. In other words, I really liked this music before I knew I knew its creator. Those who claim it has a structure as opposed to a sequence are probably imagining things. But the tunelessness of the music doesn't always mean it's amelodic and the groovelessness rarely means it stands still. My faves often tie in alien elements--"Umbilical" with its Mbuti chant, "Sinner" with its virtual bellows breathing in and out, "Faggot" with its bells-and-choirboy undergirding and stuttering aggro finale. But tune in anytime during this 20-track hour and chances are you'll hear something you've never heard before--and want to hear it again, to make sure you were right the first time. A-