Alejandro Ghersi, best known as the producer Arca, has released his first new track under that moniker since 2016's Entrañas mixtape. Arca’s puissant vocal delivery on the track, though preeminent, is not new––previous tracks, like Entrañas final track "Sin Rumbo," have featured Arca's singing voice in the main. “Piel” is presumably the first single from his upcoming album, announced in 2016 as Reverie––it will be his third album, and his first with XL Recordings, having left his previous label, Mute. If the track is any indication of what Arca has in the offing, we can expect that Reverie will be a departure from Arca’s predominantly instrumental music, and perhaps taken in tow by his ongoing work with Bjork.
In “Piel,” Arca’s voice sits between coiling guitar feedback and revving bass––he emphasizes the grotesque wetness of his own voice between Spanish consonants, and affects viscosity from an otherwise shrill, angular instrumental arrangement. Arca’s music has always had this ideology foregrounded––make something grotesque do something sexy, make something sexy do something grotesque; bodily fluids and bile shimmer in his world, too.
And his lyrics are no exception. The constant refrain commands us fervently to remove our skin (and his, too––quítame la piel). The emotionally opaque phrase “I do not know how to fall” (no sé caerme) is balanced between images of trees dying standing up. The final touching admission rings “without you I do not know anything” (sin ti, no sé nada). Though stirring, the lyrics are not as diaristic or austere as Bjork’s in her 2015 album, Vulnicura. Perhaps there is some lyrical obscurity to be expected from an artist’s first public foray into singing/songwriting, but by virtue of the impenitence of Arca’s visual collaborations with artist Jesse Kanda, I expect no such self-consciousness to permeate Reverie.
A significant phase for Arca, and a minor masterpiece in the key of confessional-vocal/minimal-electronic music.
By blogmann on Feb. 23, 2017, 4:01 p.m.