Arca - Arca
Every Time you sit down to listen to an Arca record you really do have to prepare yourself. It is not going to be easy, or even really all that fun but what the Venezuelan producer is able to achieve is nothing short of incredible. I wrote in a previous review just how uncomfortable his last album Mutant made you feel. This new self-titled record however feels much more personal if not just as fucking dark. On Arca we have Arca's vocals for the first time, singing in Spanish, letting us in to his world all the more. The opener "Piel" sets the stage for this expansive dark world that Arca is operating in where things can be unpleasant and dark or massive and awe inspiring. Arca uses every inch of space He can find to make these tracks feel like they are bursting at the seams even if he is just singing away in a sweet, echoey voice. Arca hums before He ever sings sort of setting the tone for his voice to eventually be included slowly and deliberately. It is an interesting choice almost like He is not quite ready to share His voice with us at the outset, He wants to get as comfortable with the listener as He wants the listener to get with him. Arca's music is just as much about his experience as it is your own, which it makes it so very different from a lot of the stuff out there. "Urchin" is the first time we get anything resembling a "dance" track but only because of this constant almost heartbeat-esque pounding in the distant background. Arca's music just has so much force behind it, on "Reverie" you can feel the wave build and build until it finally crashes and vanishes at the end. You can almost see this happening right in front of you, it's amazing.
When I first reviewed Arca back in November of 2015 I was more confused than anything else. Experimental music didn't really make sense and didn't fit into the box that I put music in. What you have to realize is that the box is everywhere and thus music can be anything and everything. It doesn't mean that every attempt at making music is good, it just means that there are many roads an artist can take. Arca, unlike other experimental artists who just seem to throw sounds at a wall, has a very keen sense of rhythm but does not allow the rhythm to dictate where the song goes, it is just a bass line for the song to begin and grow from. This record however, if you can believe it, is more pop than Mutant by a long shot. Perhaps the vocals are part of it, but it just seems like this record is a bit more digestible. However Arca never sacrifices for a pop sound, I mean just listen to the record, does it sound like something that is going to be played on Top 40 radio anytime soon? Where Mutant felt like everything was wrong and there is no way to fix it, Arca maintains hope this idea that no matter how bad it gets there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. If you have never listened to Arca before this record is a great introduction and one you may actually enjoy. Get out of your own box and give Arca a shot.
8.8 out of 10