Arca - Arca

Arca — Arca

XL, 2017

Arca’s self-titled a revelation. It maintains the maximalist, sonically adventurous landscapes of Arca’s previous releases, but adopts as its centerpiece the fragility of the human voice. It’s catharsis for the listener as much as, for Alejandro Ghersi, creating this album seems to have been a cathartic act. In an interview with The Guardian promoting this album, Arca says: “There’s a recurring lyric on the album, in Spanish, that’s ambiguous as to whether it’s asking someone to take my skin off, literally, physically, or whether I’m simply referring to shedding skin and growing.” That seems to me a good way of thinking about this album — as the removal of a metaphysical skin, a shedding, a casting-off. It’s challenging, rejuvenating, and deeply sad.

BEST: 2, 5, 10 (PLAY THIS ONE), 11

 

1. Piel — Ethereal humming, ghostly singing and sparse instrumentation.

2. Anoche — Unbelievably powerful ballad, explodes into the most gorgeous thing you’ve ever heard at like 1:30.

3. Saunter — Foreboding vocals over a jumpy, skittering beat.

4. Urchin — A monstrous, organic beat almost emulates the human voice in its looseness, its porousness.

5. Reverie — Sweet, expansive noise melds with Arca’s powerful chorus over abrasive percussion.

6. Castration — Frantic, tightly-wound skitters and hiccups. No vocals here.

7. Sin Rumbo — Low-register, emotional ballad with a relatively tame instrumental.

8. Coraje — Super delicate sounds kind of float in space, underneath a fragile voice that almost feels like it’s going to break down crying.

9. Whip — This is literally just 80 seconds of whip sounds. Weird little instrumental track.

10. Desafío — God-tier pop song on the level of, say, Björk’s “Joga.”

11. Fugaces — Gorgeous ballad over expansive ambient noise. Por qué me mentiste?  :’(

12. Miel — Whispering, mournful singing over almost no background noise.

13. Child — Epic instrumental closes out the album with maximalist, electronic orchestral noise.

Will Gottsegen