Arca's Stunning 'KiCk i' Is a Fully Realized Vision of the Future
Published Jun 23, 2020Alejandra Ghersi's world isn't like our own. It's a deeper and more complex place – liberated from binary notions of beauty and ugliness, of gender, of music and noise. Ghersi's latest, the delirium-inducing KiCk i, is an invitation into her universe of constant mutation. It's a French-tipped finger, beckoning you to inhabit every fluctuation and facet of the boundless self.
Ghersi's alien brilliance has been seeding itself across the music landscape for some time now – she's responsible, in one way or another, for some of the most thrilling pop of the last 10 years. From Kanye and FKA twigs to Björk and Kelela, the Arca sound – corrosive and beautiful, shattering and liquid – has helped shape the sound of the future.
KiCk i, then, is that future vision fully realized. From the first queasy beats that open the missive of "Nonbinary" to the caustic reggaeton of Rosalía-featuring "KLK" or the moonlit balladry of "Calor," this is Ghersi in her truest form — which is to say that it is many forms at once. The record zigzags between styles and moods at a breakneck pace, collapsing genre in its wake and crafting new pop forms – never has an Arca album held so many moments of pure songcraft. Still, Ghersi doesn't temper her experimental impulses. Rather, she subsumes pop structure and the occasional major key, manipulating them to suit her destabilizing sound.
Even the record's most potentially straightforward tracks – "Watch," "Riquiqui," the aforementioned "KLK" – are in a state of constant collapse and regeneration. Careening pixels of sound, beats like cracking boulders, blasts of distortion and moments of sudden clarity merge to create something both thrilling and unsettling. KiCk i sometimes feels like the haunted older sister to Charli XCX's Pop 2. Like Charli, Ghersi brought a crew along for the ride – her hero and frequent collaborator Björk, and fellow experimental pop contemporaries Rosalía, Shygirl and SOPHIE. Unlike Charli however, Ghersi's record feels less like a party and more like a rebellion.
Sung almost entirely in Spanish – Björk received enunciation tips from Rosalía for her shivering performance on "Afterwards" – the album is both an exorcism and a welcoming of spirits. Ghersi has made clear her desire to be seen as many things at once, to find pleasure in every layer of existence – KiCk i is the sound of life's multitudes, a soundtrack for dissolving the barriers that once defined us. (XL)