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  • Writer's pictureSpyros Psarras

Album Review: Arcachata | Arcachata

Picking it up from where we left it, which is the experimental project of Panama-based Adolfo Samudio aka Arcachata, today the Sanctum is playing his 2019 self-titled release. Since his 2022’s Bellatrix is still fresh in the archive, it will be easier to identify what connects and what separates the two LPs, considering the two years of space between them.

As the graphic designer that I am, I can’t help but notice how the cover art of Arcachata is 100% aligned with the artist’s musical vision. The image alone is predisposing the listener for an experience that has a great chance of being lawless, manifold and more importantly experimental. That by itself is a success that not many artists go hard at (for reasons unknown). But let’s see what hides behind the visual. As seen in Bellatrix’s '2021 Seasons', Samudio opens the album with

-once more- a long introduction titled ‘Café Central’. Here we witness some kind of potpourri presenting the artist’s direction for the album which is again a mysterious blend of confusion together with doses of well-structured moments. It’s immediately clear that the same recipe has been used in Bellatrix. The Trumpet & Drum 'N' Bass combo gives off an eerie, urban vibe that would make ‘Café Central’ a fitting soundtrack for a cloak-and-dagger movie. A Film Noir. Quick note: The monotonal female vocalization seems to be a signature ingredient of Arcachata since it’s the exact same used in Bellatrix.

The mood is completely reshaped in ‘Their Sunny Peruvian Funeral’, a rousing piece that got me off my seat dancing around the house by myself. What a treat! The flirty bass, the intoxicating trombone as well as the addictive beat make for an explosive fiesta, very much unexpected and more than appreciated, especially when it comes from a project that does not care to please the mainstream audience most of the time. POV: This is Samudio at his best, for better or worse. Next up, we are returning to the garage for some jamming, synth-blasting and free-styling with ‘Day Trip To Chata (A Voyage of Life)’. Percussion meets trumpet meets heavenly ethers in a minimal space of comfort, until a handful of instruments come into play to spice things up, electrifying the atmosphere. That did not escalate quickly yet the end result leaves the listener somewhere stable.

In the middle of this session we have bell-synths, creeping beats and the -famous by now- low-toned vocal layer making ‘Midnight Song’ echo in a state of enchanting melancholia. Does that make sense? The piercing, rock-styled climax achieved towards the end of the track puts this one among the highlights of the album if not THE highlight. One truly grand moment for Arcachata since we rarely see such dedication to the build-up process of a track. Moving on to the obsessive ‘Triunfo Tapao’ which can literally bring a headache or send you to a deep trance thanks to this ethnic-flavored melody looping for about 4 minutes. The track goes through an extreme make-over during its second half, offering a chill-out pause only to come back stronger and all-consuming. As this LP is reaching its closure, we find ourselves before a clash of sounds. A sharp, electronic one, determined to edge out its organic antagonist, a cool trombone in ‘En Las Postrimerias del Arranque’. The second one is managing to take over, leading the track to less aggressive territories but only until ‘Isthmian Goth Hop’ takes charge and drowns everything under persistent kicks, menacing saws and entombing bass. Samudio decides to close his self-titled in the most obscure, heavy way and to be honest, that’s the Sanctum’s cup of tea so I couldn’t ask for anything else at this point.

If I had to compare Arcachata to Bellatrix, I would not be in a sticky situation. Arcachata is a far more digestible album, with concrete concepts for each track and less effort to be ever-changing and unconventional. It feels as if Samudio is handling each part of this album with a more constructive drive, nurturing and enriching his music rather than deconstructing it. From a philosophical approach, it’s discipline defeating disorder. At least in this battle. Arcachata is, like every ongoing project, a work in progress. Nothing is absolute and no labels should limit the creators or their process. One thing’s for sure. Samudio’s music is experimental to its core, meaning it comes from a place of undefiled creativity and blooms from our primal need as humans to play and discover. And that’s why the Sanctum spends so much time covering this unbounded genre. Until next time, take care. I'm out.

Enjoy Arcachata here:


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