Photo: David Zorrakino/Getty
by Paul Attard Ledger Line Music

Arca | KiCk i

July 23, 2020

KiCk i is lame and tame — a pop-forward album of limited imagination and experimentation.

It’s been a busy last few years for Alejandra Ghersi. In-between investing around three months worth of time into a popular MMORPG, contributing to the soundtrack for Red Dead Redemption 2, and composing the new lobby music for the Museum of Modern Art, she took part in a four-part experimental performance cycle (each “act” was 90 minutes, with the exception of the five-hour-long final movement) titled Mutant;Faith. This combination of new media aesthetics, transgressive gender performativity, and chilly ambiance was nothing new in terms of creative elements for the Venezuelan producer to filter her craft through; if anything, it just underscored how much Arca’s acceptance by the cultural elite never came as much of a surprise, considering the easily transferable nature of her art into the esteemed world of the gallery space. 

KiCk i, her latest release, sets out to rectify these notions, distancing the artist from the stark, disorienting compositions of her 2017 self-titled project, and honing in on her more pop-oriented tendencies. This isn’t to suggest there aren’t moments of visceral abrasiveness to be found here — “KLK” finds ways to continually up the ante in terms of deafening bewilderment, with a more than game Rosalía along for the ride — but those moments are few and far between. What one gets instead is a collection of glitched-out tracks that are severely lacking in anything representing ideas, structure or even direction, awkwardly sitting somewhere between noncommittal experimental oddities and completely unmemorable IDM-flavored misfires; they all nearly disappear from one’s thoughts as soon as they end, like cotton candy on the tongue. And the ones that actually manage to stand out usually do so for the wrong reasons. Opener “Nonbinary” features some cringe-worthy, if well-intentioned, rapping on behalf of Ghersi herself, dropping generic flexes like “I don’t give a fuck what you think / You don’t know me / You might owe me / But, bitch, you’ll never know me” to convey her pride in rejecting traditional gender roles, which considering the boldness that’s come before, might be both the tamest and lamest expression of these sentiments Arca has engaged in yet.

Published as part of Ledger Line | Q2 2020 Issue – Part 1.