Denver, Colorado's Thug Entrancer (Ryan McRyhew) established his intriguing hybrid electro sound on 2014's excellent Death After Life, his debut full-length for Daniel Lopatin's Software label, but he goes further on his highly advanced follow-up. While Death After Life consisted of hypnotic excursions that occasionally headed toward the ten-minute mark, Arcology is much more focused and refined, packing more twists and turns and surprising elements into shorter track times. There's also much more of a sci-fi element to the album, from the cyborg cover artwork to track titles referencing virtual reality and exosomatic memory. Common to science fiction and video games, an arcology is a self-sufficient society contained within a single large, densely packed structure, with little to no influence from the outside world. While it's easy to trace some of Thug Entrancer's influences, particularly Chicago-spawned dance music genres such as acid house and juke, Arcology still seems to follow its own muses and doesn't fit into any easily definable categories. As with his previous album, Arcology was largely improvised on analog synthesizer equipment, but the tracks are more detailed and there's a greater sense of urgency here. McRyhew is still a pro at weaving squiggly acid techno synth lines around snapping electro beats, but there's much more melodic development, and more subtle production touches. The propulsive rhythms and crystalline melodies of tracks such as "Rōnin" seem to perfectly encapsulate the futuristic theme, sounding hi-tech and effortlessly cool. The album's ecstatic high point is "Tight Lean [Perispirit Mix]," which marries a racing juke rhythm with a slightly blue melody, expressing the excitement and frustration of facing an uncertain future. Busy and engrossing, Arcology marks an exhilarating development in Thug Entrancer's sound.
AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson