Boomkat Product Review:
On Arca’s amazing 3rd, eponymous album - her debut for XL - the Venezuelan/American artist reveals her vocals, guts and more (check the press shots; which, to be fair, aren’t a patch on E+E’s old Myspace pic) in a riveting suite of tortuous torch songs riddled with violent electronic tones and heart-wrenching levels of emotive pathos.
If Xen  was a chrysalis for Arca to nervously find her place in the world, and Mutant  revealed her shedding that exosleketon and becoming flesh, then Arca documents the preeminent artist coming to terms with her soul in typically unflinching fashion thru 13 songs about, well, we’re not 100% sure; but they’re detectably as heavy as your life and every bit as unnerving, compelling as the sore, longing face looking out from Jesse Kanda’s artwork.
After first coaxing her voice out on the Entrañas mixtape in summer ’16, it is now a fully fledged and confidently integral part of her music on Arca, and to the extent it’s now almost hard to imagine her sound without it. Ranging from quivering, castrati-style to richer, processed lows, it turns out to be the perfect foil for her plasmic electronic scales, serving to match and emphasise the operatic/cabaret dramaturgy of her arrangements with an effect at times as surreal as Julee Cruise’s performances in Twin Peaks, or one of Coil’s studio sprites come to life, or even like some Kaspar Hauser-esque R&B diva who just emerged from another dimension.
Lead singles Piel and Anoche set the scene for 43 minutes of the most arresting music you’ll hear in 2017, sweeping us thru the windswept crest of Saunter and the oily sensuality of Reverie to the pinched, curdled chamber music of Castration at the album’s agitated instrumental core, whose chaos subsides to make the appearance of her soaring vox in Sin Rumbo (a highlight of the aforementioned Entraps mixtape) that much more poignant.
Farther in, you can trust Arca’s visceral sound design skills are in cutting effect with Whip, used to beautiful effect framing rave horns and expansive swooshes around the naked, shivering but soaring vox of Desafío, while Fugaces sounds like Julee Cruise reworked by Elysia Crampton, and Child dances on your nerve endings like Drukqs-era AFX rescoring Vangelis for prepared piano.