Arca
Arca


4.0
excellent

Review

by Zeta USER (2 Reviews)
April 13th, 2017 | 161 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Arca blends the gorgeous and the grotesque in a haunting art pop record.

Conversations about Arca inevitably revolve around its striking creative switch-up: Alejandro Ghersi is now singing over his outré electronic production, taking after his heroes through centering an artistic persona. It was Bjork after all who raised the suggestion, catching him singing a tune on a casual car ride. He shrugged it off at first, but deep respect for her wisdom had him peering more closely at the possibility. The leap of faith he’s taken under her guidance has proven to be rewarding: Arca is one of the most gripping releases of the early year, a bruised rumination on the nature of trauma through a distinctly queer lens.

Ghersi is fascinated with alienhood, the markers of deviancy that set creatures apart. He’s called the CGI woman in his iconic “Thievery” video an alter-ego; the Mutant gracing his last album cover played a similar role. Now he’s embodying a foreign being himself: the music videos of Arca are essential, crystallizing a visual element to the music. Queer oppression undergirds them all, most notably the aftermath of violence. Ghersi never intends to celebrate violence – he’s drawn to its markers, how people carry trauma on their bodies. The visuals offer an entry point to making sense of Arca, encouraging the listener to envision their own scenes to the soundscapes.

The songs are all sung in Spanish, which contributes another layer of “otherness.” I don’t know a lick of Spanish so I like pretending that Ghersi is communicating in an alien language here, an interior dialect. The album is like a schizophrenic Agaetis Byrjun to me, “Flugufrelsarinn” mapped onto a wasteland of debris. Lyrics are unnecessary when you have a voice communing with celestial pain like this. The vocal takes are delightfully blemished, creaks and rasps furthering a sense of intimacy. It’s Ghersi’s catharsis, but there’s enough compassion here for the listener to refract their own life experience. He states that intent beautifully in an interview with Vice: “If there's a sadness running through your life, you must attempt to tune yourself in to a frequency where you harmonise with it. That's what healing is. It's not forgetting about something or denying it, it's harmonising with it.”

I reckon the sonic approach might be a sticking point for some: the aggression of his previous music has been replaced with an art pop framework. It’s less blistering, but there’s still an intensity to the experience. “Urchin” vacillates in place with cinematic bursts of synths and percussion; “Reverie” plays with high drama in its action flick sound effects; “Fugaces” evokes melancholia in its cavernous bliss of synths and piano chords. The production is in service of the songs rather than showboating his skills. While it’s effective, I find myself wishing for more to unearth on repeat listens. Approaching this from a pop angle is how you locate the gems: the main melody of “Anoche” has become engrained in my subconscious; “Desafio” scales ecstatic pop heights, an immediate stunner unlike anything he’s done. With Arca, Ghersi has truly come into his own as an artist, imbuing his art with a deep sense of purpose. For the listeners that tap into its golden frequency, it can feel like a revelation.


user ratings (128)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Tunaboy45
April 13th 2017


15152 Comments


I've been a fan of Arca in the past, should probably check this out. Pos.

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robotmagician
April 13th 2017


238 Comments


nice review, but god this album cover is disgusting to look at

Dewinged
April 13th 2017


4422 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Saw one of his videos the other day, really unsettling shit.



But if Bjork says he's good I'm jamming this mf.

Digging: Harvestman - Music for Megaliths

TwigTW
April 13th 2017


2571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, that cover art is repulsive, but this album is an interesting new direction. The vocals took a little bit of getting used for me, but I think the albums great--nice review!

Digging: Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live at Royal Albert Hall

VirtualBlaze
April 13th 2017


521 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I really don't like the fact that this is being called haunting. I doubt Arca was trying to create something scary. It's just a very personal album. I feel like calling it haunting is an insult to Arca. I could be entirely wrong here, but personally, I would be upset if I made a deeply personal album and listeners called it scary, or haunting.

How is the album cover grotesque?

Digging: Jay-Z - 4:44

SowingSeason
Moderator
April 13th 2017


23983 Comments


I really don't like the fact that this is being called haunting. I doubt Arca was trying to create something scary. It's just a very personal album. I feel like calling haunting is an insult to Arca. I could be entirely wrong here, but personally, I would be upset if I made a deeply personal album and listeners called it scary, or haunting.
How is the album cover grotesque?


Lol broaden your definition of haunting, dude. It doesn't mean scary.

Digging: Manchester Orchestra - A Black Mile To The Surface

wtferrothorn
Contributing Reviewer
April 13th 2017


5638 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Damn, so much for my review. Glad you got first though, because this is a quality review man.



Album is one of the top of this year, which is surprising considering I really didn't like 'Mutant'

VirtualBlaze
April 13th 2017


521 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good point, Sowing. There's just this negative connotation on the word haunt for me. I associate it with ghosts, demons, etc. I think what I've heard of this album is absolutely beautiful so far.

SowingSeason
Moderator
April 13th 2017


23983 Comments


FWIW I haven't heard this yet, so I don't even really know.

plane
Emeritus
April 13th 2017


6671 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

to haunt =/= haunting in review's context; "poignant and evocative; difficult to ignore or forget"



This album is indeed beautiful. Great review. Golden frequency is ace word choice.

Piglet
April 13th 2017


7092 Comments


i would love to superglue this album cover on my brother's ceiling, right above where he sleeps

the cunt literally drinks all the barbeque sauce

rabidfish
April 13th 2017


2618 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Haunting in music usually refers to music that moves you, melancholic and/or disturbing. It can also mean 'scary', but it is NOT a negativo term dude.

Digging: Shelagh McDonald - Stargazer

NastyCrab
April 13th 2017


646 Comments


fuck this album cover, I was eating

CopsNRoberts
April 13th 2017


3 Comments


Listened to 'Anoche' and dug it. Need to check this out I guess.

Spacesh1p
April 13th 2017


6650 Comments


Liked Arca less and less since early works, might check this though.

Digging: Talk Talk - Laughing Stock

rodrigo90
April 13th 2017


2251 Comments


Is the guy on the cover playing dance dance revolution inside his mouth?

Zeneren
April 13th 2017


964 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Wow really great review



Although I enjoy some of his past glitch-heavy material, the switch to a greater emphasis on the vocal delivery comes off really well. His vocals are gripping and strong enough as the focal point.

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Spacesh1p
April 13th 2017


6650 Comments


"Is the guy on the cover playing dance dance revolution inside his mouth?"

I was wondering the same thing.

Divaman
April 13th 2017


1029 Comments


Hideous album art.

Zeta
April 13th 2017


77 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Didn't think the artwork would be divisive, I quite like it. Fits well with the music.



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