Mexico City-based artist Marco Gutierrez a.k.a. Siete Catorce has come a long way since we dubbed him The Future Sound of Northern Mexico back in 2013. Since debuting with a glitchy, bass-heavy style of IDM infused with traditional sounds and rhythms, his name has come to stand for something. He’s frequently grouped with certain trends and movements in Mexico, but we feel he’s in a category all his own.
Hyper-focused and prolific Siete Catorce seems hell-bent on raising the bar for himself and in doing so, he subtly raises it for everyone else. With Principio /// Final, his latest EP, he showcases his impressive ability to strip down electronica and traditional music to their barebones minimum and pair them seamlessly. This time he brings new elements like noise and glitch to the forefront.
The opening track, “Antes,” is a fast-paced tribal dance track, with a tempo that approaches dangerously dizzying speeds. Siete Catorce not only includes live-sampled clap tracks, but oscillates them into psychedelic feedback, which is when you realize how self-aware his music is. It’s as if he knows just when to let you know he’s with you every step of the way.
In between releases, Siete Catorce can be elusive – but he’s been informally pumping out Soundcloud loosies so we know he’s keeping his pitching arm warm that way until it’s time to release an album. With “Nunca,” the five song EP’s second track, we hear more introspective arrangements to the tribal dance track, shedding most of the anger from his previous EP 2. Today, with Principio /// Final we find the Mexicali-born artist in a city of his choice, doing what needs to be done to produce his music.
Marco definitely lets the music do the talking, using what seems like an arm’s-length method of naming his songs with conjunctive adverbs. This could either be to give the listener a break from heavy themes and let them focus solely on the music, or just a lack of concept. If we are to take the name of the album literally, we can presume some a cycle in his life has come to a close. Listen to “Aveces,” the album’s third track – the way it suddenly stops for a moment of introspection, goes off into this spatial k-hole and then climaxes in a wall of digital noise.
Siete Catorce’s career has reached a point where if he releases an album, people pay attention. Maybe his ability to harness that attention trickles down. During his live set you can see him almost burning a hole into his laptop screen until his set is done. Every sound, glitch, sample and adjustment is carefully placed and adjusted. Principio /// Final is an album that, yet again, delivers what we have come to expect from Marco. Then again, we never know what to expect, and that’s an exciting and refreshing thing.