Arp Shares Video For “New Pleasures”

Canny and time-bending, composer/producer Alexis Georgopoulos (Arp) sculpts angularities into fresh, alluring shapes, expanding and contracting song form into brain-teasing sound design. The sensation the music offers is almost rubbery; it makes you feel as if you could flex, bend and squeeze your body inside out – a vivid, deconstructed take on high-definition pop, avant-garde, and dance music forms. Drawing on the promise of futurism, New Pleasures reflects the slipperiness of time, the multidirectional, non-linearity of memory; how our minds shift millisecond to millisecond from past to present to future and back again.

New Pleasures is the second chapter in his ZEBRA trilogy and advances the narrative begun with 2018’s acclaimed ZEBRA; pastoral in mood, expansive in style, the record acted as a dawn on a nascent, Edenic landscape, reminiscent of a beautiful, long-lost Fourth World album. In this world, the music approximated the patient cadence of geological time – the way time suspends when you watch a river in motion. There was, nonetheless, the presence of something alien on the horizon.

Now, Arp drops us deep into the grid of the city. New Pleasures fast-forwards a few centuries, locating listeners in a post-industrial Sprawl (to borrow an expression from William Gibson’s Neuromancer) of concrete and glass, imbuing the album with the flinty glow of commerce, the sleek rhythms of industrialization, and the cool finesse of brutalism. 

The result is a collection of futuristic pop interiors with glinted exteriors; a prismatic inquiry into machine sentience, the economy of desire, and myriad forms of possession. The album’s title track is available today. “That space between idea and reality, fact and fiction—which drives; New Pleasures’—is so often inhabited by commerce, which conjures our fantasies for us,” Georgopoulos explains. “There we find desire. For connection, luxury, distinction. We think we’re immune to its psychology because we’re conscious of it, but in some ways, it drives everything.”

“New Pleasures” comes alongside a striking video directed by acclaimed filmmaker Adinah Dancyger. Of the collaboration, she says: “My first impressions when listening to the song made me think about the life of a dollar in one given day and how a web of connections amongst people / New Yorkers can be formed through the act of transaction. It was cool to discuss this with Alexis as his angle for this video was leaning towards similar images of commerce. It was an opportunity to explore the plethora of relationships one has to ‘things’ despite the connotations with any given scenario. This piece doesn’t seek to judge the inevitable relationship between people and commerce, but is rather an observation of how many spaces and tones this ubiquitous experience moves through in micro and macro ways. It was an ambitious goal to film in this many places with this many people, but the cast and crew pulled off little miracles left and right.” 

New Pleasures recalls the way a sci-fi film might collapse multiple time periods on top of each other. This cinematic influence runs throughout the album, songs operating as though distinct scenes in a larger, unfolding narrative. A battery of analogue synths and techniques shape this texture. Georgopoulos fuses classic drum machine technology (Linn LM-1, Sequential Circuits Drumtraks, Oberheim DMX, Vermona DRM-1, 707s, 808s, 909s) with live hand percussion to create intricate rhythmic patterns that defy categorization. Liquid fretless bass (courtesy of Georgopoulos himself and Onyx Collective’s Spencer Murphy, who guests on “Eniko” and “i: /o”) melts through the complex architecture of percussion. Vintage synthesizers (Prophet 5, Fairlight CMI, DX7, Moog Model D) pepper the album with harmonic overtones, chimes, stabs, and chordal voicings. Innovative use of call-and-response throughout transplants a song form more commonly found in folk and religious music into an alien, electronic landscape. Meanwhile, dance floor-focused tracks bounce to a see-saw of harmonized synth drums and electro conga rolls. Glistening electronic melodies crest, crash, and spray the air above.

When asked to describe the strange, alluring sense of familiarity and dislocation the new Arp album evokes, Georgopoulos says: “sometimes the most alien thing is simply seeing what we take for granted from a slightly different angle.” In its dialogue of opposition, both theoretical and sensory—human/machine, meta/immediate, economic/erotic—New Pleasures gleans political ideologies and spiritual deficiencies from the polishes and veneers of our world. One wonders if those so-called ‘New Pleasures’ are in fact pleasures at all. Another meaning lurks, it seems, underneath the title’s ostensible advert-speak. By embracing overlapping methodologies, intersecting genealogies, and burgeoning technologies, New Pleasures offers the building blocks of something liberating rather than didactic. By turns imaginative, cheeky, and energetic, it’s Arp’s most experimental and yet most alluringly accessible work to date.

Photo Courtesy: Kelly Jeffrey