It is in her usual fashion: overwhelming and surprising at every turn, with Arca remaining in complete control of the chaos.
Trying to comprehend all of ARCA’s KiCK i is a task that truly will take a long time post-release. It is in her usual fashion: overwhelming and surprising at every turn, with Arca remaining in complete control of the chaos. Calls so far have been made by fans and critics that it is her most ‘pop’ album to date but flip back to your favourite pop bop and realise its just untrue. A more manageable structure doth not make a pop album, it just sometimes has a beat you could find your footing to. Instead, opening with Arca’s most pointed tracks 'Nonbinary', the message is clear. She’s found herself in a way she has never before, and she's doing things on her terms only. "What a treat it is to be/Nonbinary/ Ma chérie/ Tee-hee-hee/ Bitch."
The three years since the release of her last album have provided Arca the space to ground her identity however, to say that this is the "final form" would be naive. Arca will forever be building herself, she has endless "self-states". She is, as with all of her songs, forever growing expressions. So, it makes sense that KiCK i would be a the representation of this latest evolution. It's ultimately an extensive deep dive into sound design in which the world is Arca’s to break down, rebuild and reappropriate into whatever she needs to say.
With self-actualisation comes the creative liberation and freedom to push her sonic craft even further, and Arca has done exactly this, not just in her own work but also opening up her process to allow for collaborations as well. KiCK i marks the first time Arca has allowed guests to appear on her own music, and features four collaborations of noteworthy women in SHYGIRL, SOPHIE, ROSALIA and BJORK, who musically share very little other than swathes of adoring fans. ‘Watch’ with Shygirl has her trademark driven flow leading us through an aggressively textural dream. Rosalia provides her trademark neo-flamenco vocal stylings to production that honours her usual style but dials it all the way up. It’s almost a vision of what Rosalia’s future could be if she reaches further into her oddities. SOPHIE is arguably the most fitting collaborator in terms of shared sonic palettes, and both artists collide in a spectacular, unpredictable sonic assault on 'La Chíqui'. Bjork’s collaboration demonstrates how even the most juggernaut of artists can’t help but play second fiddle to production in an Arca song, and after collaborating on the Icelandic star's Vulnicura and Utopia albums, 'Afterwards' proves the Arca/Bjork partnership is as always, fluid and heavenly.
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The whole album skates between transcendent moments of sweetness and alarming sonic attacks on your sense of peace. From the vocal distortions in 'Rip The Slit', the pounding bass in 'Mequetrefe' or the unearthly choir of 'Calor', KiCK i is an album to get lost in. It’s an album to investigate if you don’t speak Spanish, an album to sit with and try take in all of who Arca is, personally and musically. The first of four albums set to be released from her, the challenge is on us to keep up because with KiCK i, Arca proves she still has plenty more to say.
Words by Lloyd Crackett
Credit: Artwork by HART + LËSHKINA