Arca: “Arca” Album Review

Written By: Ethan Griggs

My Music:

The music made by the  Venezuelan-by-way-of England producer Alejandro Ghersi, better known by his artist persona Arca, is often richly delicate while simultaneously drenched in darkness. The twenty six year old producer has made verbal electronic music often without uttering a single word. His 2014 debut Xen was representative of this, and his 2015 follow up Mutant ventured even further into the left field. Following last year’s Entrañas EP, his self titled third record is hands down the most human music he’s made yet, and this can be confirmed through the album’s cover: a hideous image of a grotesque human face, rather than the sub-human organisms that graced the covers of his previous works. Arca,  through Ghersi’s haunting tenor vocals and piercing soundscapes, fulfills the sound that the producer has always ventured towards yet has never arrived at. Through his harsh arrangements and his yearning, Spanish lyrics, Ghersi paints a picture of love in the 21st century that is clear and confusing all at once.

The album’s opener, “Piel”, sets the tone for the record in terms of both themes and sonics.  “Take off my skin from yesterday/A shadow of sparkles on your skin/And at once I put in distance/Maybe/Without you, I don’t know anything,” croons the artist over ear-splitting feedback that ends up harmonizing perfectly with his voice. His oft occurring fixation with sexuality appears yet again on “Anoche”, where he sings:  “Last night I dreamt of you/Your figure and your arms/Last night I yearned you/Even though I haven’t met you yet”. Arca is the type of person who personifies love as a wild, untamable animal.

By the time the spine-tingling “Castration” comes around – one of the album’s most engaging instrumentals – the listener has become immersed with Arca’s worldview and his perception of feeling. The warbling synth and prominent bass on the track is one of the album’s true pieces of ear candy.

In the past, Ghersi has produced tracks for the likes of Kanye West (on Yeezus), FKA twigs (LP1), and co-produced all of Björk’s Vulnicura, but the incredibly poppy and radio-ready “Desafío” still comes as somewhat of a surprise, as it is Arca’s most basic and straightforward pop song.  “Ready or not/There is an abyss within me”, sings Ghersi in the song’s chorus; it’s one of his strongest lyrical and melodic moments of his entire career. Ironically, the track hasn’t been released as a single, although a video was made of it. Arca’s talents as a producer are starting to yield a bit to his talents as an actually musician and songwriter, and a newfound confidence exudes itself over his self-titled third album.