arca - arca / by Zack Free

put plainly, alejandro ghersi has made some of the most exciting music of the 21st century. coming to prominence with his work on kanye west’s yeezus, the venezuelan-born artist known as arca has since helped craft excellent projects for fka twigs and björk, cementing his position as one of electronic music’s greatest new innovators. on his first two studio albums, xen and mutant, arca spoke with twisting walls of sound, captivating through his pure skill as a sound engineer. however, with his third, self-titled effort, ghersi adds a new layer to his compositions: his voice, equally enrapturing in its grim sincerity. he sings exclusively in spanish here, but even if you don’t speak the language, it’s easy to fall prey to his hypnotic abilities with melody. “desafío,” for example, is bursting with vocal earworms, a fact that becomes less shocking when you take into account arca’s consistent position on the fringe of pop music over the last few years. none of this, however, is meant to suggest that his soundscapes are any less engaging. they’re a bit sweeter sounding, but no less cold or barren; “anoche,” for example, sounds as dark as its namesake (“last night”). it might be his most accessible effort yet, but arca is not to be taken lightly - it’s the sound of an artist coming into his own B+