Having first met at a GHE20G0TH1K party around the time a 17-year-old Alejandra had just moved to New York, the joint project arouse out of a mutual appreciation for each others talents as vocalists, DJs and producers, bonding over a shared loved of dissecting, disrupting and distorting traditional sonics.
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Recording out of Arca's tiny Chinatown apartment, often much to their neighbors' chagrin, WENCH was the pair's contribution to the late 2010s rise of deconstructed club, described in a press release as being "a vision that ripples and influences many, and synergizes their practice in a creative symbiosis that has allowed new modes of creative exploration in each of their individual practices."
Apart from a few mixtapes that were posted on Soundcloud under the name 88 mmuussicc, WENCH was for the longest time one of those acts you had to see live if you wanted to hear any of their material. Over the course of a five-year period the two produced over 50 assorted tracks and loosies, which up until now had largely been lost to the stuff of internet legend.
Now for the first time, Arca and Oliver have curated the best of WENCH for their album, Greatest Hits ’88 - ’16. Taking elements of industrial music, punk, metal, ballroom, club and more, the LP provides a look at the artists' formative years pushing back against conventions of gender, orientation, race and class, as well as rigid constraints within the fashion and music industries. It's about transness, and the radical joy, tension and turmoil it brings.
Greatest Hits ’88 - ’16 Combines Oliver's years of experience in ballroom as a former member of the House of Ninja, manifesting as chants and mantras repeated until all possible meanings are exhausted, with Arca's mutant production for a ferocious auditory assault, both angry and cathartic. Not only is the project a look at some of the artists' formative years, but it also serves as a document for the next generation of queer club kids to learn from.
WENCH's Greatest Hits ’88 - ‘16 is set to be broadcast via NTS Radio Friday, August 12th 18:00 - 20:00 BST with a launch party taking place the night before at PARAGON in New York. Check out the album's full tracklist, below.
1. Take My Hand
2. Teen Spirit
7. Rocker Fish
8. Primal Pussy
9. Graveyard Shift
10. Give It up (Do As I Say)
12. Blow It Up
Photo courtesy of WENCH/Anonymous Club
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