Arca - Arca

Arca - Arca

"Tears of joy, healing, loss, pain, longing, peace & above all gratitude drawing glowing lines across my entire body". These are the comments of Alejandro Ghersi, aka, Arca, on his eponymous third studio record, Arca, which leave you rather dubious as to what sort of emotion you're likely to draw from the work of the Venezuelan producer. He is renowned for his work with the likes of Björk and Kanye West, both of which are virtuoso's in provoking emotion in their music, and he has carried that particular knack for sound through with him since his childhood where he learnt to play the piano.

Image Credit: Genius
Photography: Jesse Kanda

His debut record, Xen (2014), was an audial projection of his feminine psyche, and made a conscious effort to represent these feelings in music videos as well. Even the follow-up, Mutant (2015), was quoted by Pitchfork as an attempt at creating a soundscape, as oppose to actual songs with conventional structures. Arca has no doubt perfected the atmospherics of electronic opera, and so it comes as no surprise that his latest full-length become simply an extension of his expertise. Then again, a leopard never changes his spots, and Ghersi has certainly not strayed from the very path that made him great; Arca is testament to this.

"Piel", the opening track on the record, begins rather archaically; a trembling voice gracefully piercing the silence, while anxiousness and unease manifest themselves in deafening feedback and strong bass tones. "Anoche" too. Only this time, Arca accompanies a seemingly grief-stricken voice with a tenuous beat, doing so with careful aplomb. These opening two tracks serve to underpin the rest of Arca's unsual palette, and very quickly you become anaesthetised by this chaotic cluster of foreign shapes and sounds - see "Saunter" and "Castration".

"Reverie" video
Directed by: Jesse Kanda
Produced by: Hannah May

Much of the more mournful textures on Arca are intermittently distorted by skittering synths and brooding tones; the Shamanic vocals on "Sin Rumbo", sporadically dispersed by electronic jitters, demonstrate Arca's ability to shift between skilful exhibitionist and mixing engineer. Strangest of all however, is the 1:20 interlude entitled "Whip", which manifests this character shift completely, as Ghersi showcases a bizarre sampling flair of whip-cracking and car-tyre screeching. Then, after his brief moment of lunacy, he returns to form on "Desafío"; one of my favourite tracks, "Desafío", parallels deep undertones along-side shrill violins and celestial vocals to establish Arca's most defining moment on the record.

"Desafío" video
Directed by: Jesse Kanda
Produced by: Hannah May

While Ghersis voice beautifully communicates Arca's 13-track narrative; its composition tells an even better story. "Fugaces" fades in with light synths and subtle keys that cushion Ghersi's melancholic vocals, bursting into an ensemble of flickering distortion and abrasive strings - like something out of H. G. Wells' War of The Worlds vision. Closer, "Child", then culminates the record with a hadron collision of harrowing strings and keys, before being diminished to a state of exhaustion, characterised by a passing set of fated chords. 

Arca's measured moments of thrill and passion and sincerity are moving. From the first second to the last, you're instantly absorbed into this weird and wonderful dimension of fascinating sounds and stunning atmospherics that are incredibly abstract. Ghersi paints a landscape of industrial storms atop a tranquil arcadia across the entirety of Arca, and, leaving no stones unturned, has created one of his most complete records to date.


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