Submitted by David Simmons
Arca, a third feat by Alejandro Ghersi, begins with a piercing drill of noise that burrows and adheres itself to you for the ablum’s entire fourty-seven minute length. The drill transitions into bright, choral like synthesisers that screech at you like angels. Arca is magnificently sexy but intensely religious; a story about truly liberating and redeeming oneself in the eyes of God, in the eyes of your lover.
What helps the record is the painstaking detail and care that has gone into every individual sound. This is most evident on Whip, which, as implied by the title, begins with a barrage of deafening whipping sounds that you genuinely feel rather than hear. This is, after all, an album heavily inspired and focused on pleasure vs pain. The dichotomy and delicate balance of abuse against BDSM confuses at times; for instance the video for Desafío refuses to make clear whether Arca is being dragged away with consent. The album as a whole is bewildering and exciting; it moves at a pace that feels one step ahead at all times, but allows the listener to catch up to breathe too the exact moment they need to. Desafío is the purest example of this; the most EDM-like track on the album, ripe for a club remix, feels natural and fun rather than overwhelmingly loud or busy like its counterpart Anoche.
If you are not instantly awed by the opening two tracks on the album, a moment of unbridled pleasure will hit you half way through Saunter. Unexpectedly, one of the most powerful voices I’ve heard in electronic music appears, “Quítame la piel de ayer” (“Take off yesterday’s skin”).
In ways, Arca is actually an opera. Sure, it uses operatic voices, but the structure, the story, and the general mood of the album is an opera in itself. Arca is not afraid to venture into the musical portrayal of grief that only opera can achieve; he utilises the most passionately sad style of music made by man in ways unheard of this side of what you could consider moody/dark electronic music (helmed by artists like Shlohmo, or Oneothrix Point Never). The album fuses, with a graceful touch, grief and technology. Combining the sterile sounds of a computer with the very human feeling of desperation and sadness.
And though I would not hesitate to say this album is perfect when recommending it, it does have its flaws. There are moments of space that feel unfinished, unclear, when compared to the highlight tracks like Anoche and Whip. Reverie, though in step with the album, lacks direction for the first half until the main vocal line comes in. This is an issue that peaks its head up on a few tracks, but rather than taking away from the album it instead highlights the multitude of brilliant moments that exist on Arca.
Ghersi’s third album is an achievement. It goes yards beyond his previous work. It is an exercise in perfectionism and vigorously shakes off any preconceptions. Alejandro is a creator who constantly surprises and delights. I’d strongly recommend you buy this one on vinyl.