ARCA – ” KiCk i “

Posted: July 1, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , ,

Kick I

Since breaking through with her first two Eps, Arca’s created an unprecedented body of work drawing from club music, experimental noise, and the ballad tradition of her native Venezuela, while reaching beyond music to encompass performance, visual art, and technology. For KiCk i, Arca pursues pleasure, dignity, and dance floor liberation by refracting club music, reggaeton, and pop through her radical vision.

In Arca’s world, playfulness has long intertwined with terror, rigidity with fluidity, human existence with cyborg life, abrasiveness with gentleness. These contrasts have defined Alejandra Ghersi’s earliest co-productions for Kanye West and FKA twigs, her unnervingly misshapen first solo recordings and album covers, her later co-production and co-writing alongside Björk and her 2017 self-titled left turn of slow-as-molasses, Spanish-language torch songs. Ghersi’s unparalleled artistic versatility was on full display at last year’s immersive five-night Mutant; Faith experience at Manhattan performance art space The Shed. The unpredictable series—among her first performances since she began transitioning involved stripper pole theremins, mechanical bulls and a lack of setlists.

The Shed’s artistic director later called Ghersi “a glimpse of a future I hope for.” As she says on “Nonbinary,” the taunting-then-thrashing android missive that opens her new album KiCk i, “I do what I wanna do when I wanna do it.” Mutant;Faith culminated in a video shoot for “Time,” KiCk i’s second track.

In the video, Ghersi and her partner, Carlos Saez, embark on a winkingly devilish Manhattan romp that fits the song’s soft, warm heartbeat of alluring come-ons and hints at KiCk i’s myriad advances to what the Arca project even is. KiCk i is Ghersi’s first proper album post-transition (her 62-minute “single” from February is loosely related to KiCk i), and with her fully realized self comes ceaseless risk-taking, fully imploded boundaries and plain old joy. This is Arca’s most overt embrace of pop, her first album with guests, and her most spontaneous, lively, and even fun album. And all of those things are one and the same.

Where Arca’s past efforts sought to express states of dissociation, rendering a consciousness flitting in and out of reality, the songs on Kick I are noticeably present and tuned-in. Arca’s gender identity is infused in the playfulness of her lyrics and compositions. Despite the addition of actual pop hooks throughout the album, Arca’s beats continue to emphasize destabilization and change. Her songs are all bridge—stretches of evolution from one idea or mindset to the next. Just when you’ve grown accustomed to a sound or riff, the floor drops out, shifting to another mode and vibe altogether.

The production oscillates wildly between harsh and smooth, as in the way the kinetic, abrasive “Riquiquí” segues into the graceful ballad “Calor”; strings and clanking percussion mix, squaring off in striking juxtaposition. By far the bounciest, most ecstatic song cycle of Arca’s career, Kick I is a celebration of actualization, whether that’s spurned by finding harmony internally or in communion with another.

KiCk i is out now! Rip the Slit Thru Mutants! It’s already here KiCk i

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