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Written Before Listen

God….at the end of the year, Electronic producer Arca decided to drop 4 albums in continuation of her Kick series, which means I have to review 5 albums. Here is the first one. Arca is a producer I know little about. I know she dis work with people like Kanye and Bjork and she is a pioneer in the Latin Electronic scene. With that out of the way, this is low-key my first time listening to Arca in-depth, so without further ado, let’s get into this.


Arca got her main start as a producer, which makes sense that her main focus is on the production. From the glitchy drum patterns of “la chiqui” to the artsy ambiance of “Calor”. Her drum choice is very experimental and glitchy and probably was an inspiration for the new Injury Reserve record. There is also a heavy amount of industrial SFX as well as dense low-end, surreal imaging and complex arrangements throughout this album. Arca might not create the most accessible beats but her skill and prowess are undeniably there.


A third of these tracks have features and all of them are females which makes this a very empowering record. The first feature to occur is the legend herself, Björk Guðmundsdóttir. On the track, “Afterwards” we hear the Icelandic legend sing in Spanish which is a blessing in disguise, on the other hand, the song itself, is only ok. The production is underwhelming, the Arca performance is barely there so Bjork is the shining star without much competition. We get “Watch” with SHYGIRL who delivers some explicit bars like usual but like Bjork, Arca is far behind in entertainment quality but luckily the production HITS. The following track brings the modern queen of Spanish Music Rosalia. As Arca is a mainly Spanish-speaking artist, it just makes so much sense to feature her on the record. We then have trans icon SOPHIE appear on the song “La Chiqui” and having those two forces collide will cause too much friction for the track. Overall, Arca couldn’t have chosen better features, but I just wish she performed better herself.


Influences aside, there are mainly two types of tracks. Some tracks could be considered Industrial Dance Music with influences from the LGBT club scene. There are also the mellow Art Pop tracks like “Time”, “Calor”, “Afterwards” and “no queda nada” which are low-key just Spanish versions of late 90s Bjork. Although, there are two stylistic outliers in this section of the Arcaverse. The track “KLK” is a full-on Reggaeton track with a lot of bounce and flare to it. There is also the track “Machote” which is Arca’s take on basically a James Blake track. Overall, I think Arca is very intelligent when it comes to music, but a lot of her sound is just scattered.

Culture Bending

Probably my favorite part about this album, the blend of cultures. She effortlessly takes influences from both English and Spanish music. From the Spanish speaking to the Reggae influenced production and the Latin-inspired drum patterns. Not to mention that her features were selected basically from all around the globe.


Alongside the occasional underwhelming vocal performances from Arca, I think the project as a whole is all over the place for the better or worse. We have songs that are good and songs that are just ok. I appreciate the dynamic skill that Arca holds in her music, despite occasionally sounding undeveloped.


I thought this was a pretty solid project from the Venezuelan native. Can’t wait to hear more from her material in the following four albums. Job well done, Arca.



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