Two of this generation’s most exhilarating artists have joined forces on a project called Wench. Both Arca and Shayne Oliver revealed to Dazed at the beginning of the year that they’d been working on an album together – today we can exclusively show you the first fruits of their labour.
The Xen producer and Hood By Air label boss are extremely close friends, a relationship that has led to continuous collaboration over the past two years. Arca provided a soundtrack called Sheep for the HBA AW15 show at Pitti Uomo in Florence and made his runway debut for the brand at Paris Fashion Week. Alongside all this, they’ve been making an album together.
It’s as yet unconfirmed when the Wench debut will be released, but this 15 minute long video, directed by the pair’s soul mate Jesse Kanda, is the first glimpse into the world that they’ve created.
The piece begins with instantly recognisable vocal motifs from the pop charts of years gone by, pulling samples from Fatboy Slim, Cher and t.A.T.u tracks, all set to footage of buildings collapsing and bridges being destroyed. It develops into familiar sonic territory, introducing Arca’s huge, glacial beats and mournful melodies, ending with Shayne Oliver rapping.
It’s fascinating to see Kanda’s work develop while still retaining the unique identity that makes all his visual art undeniably his. Much of his previous work has operated in otherworldly, undetectable terrains, whereas this has direct references to civilisation; some of it hypnotically sad – like the mass destruction of tower blocks – some of it euphoric, like a man opening to lorry to release a flock of birds into the sky.
There’s something distinctly emotional about the marriage between Kanda’s fluid, buckling visuals and "uplifting" slowed down lyrics from huge radio-assaulting pop songs, for example "they’re not gonna get us" or "I need love to feel strong".
The piece will be projected at the Hood By Air show tomorrow, so this film acts only as a preview of the entire project. Arca’s second debut full-length Mutant is out later this year – expect a Wench album at some point in 2016.