Arca – @@@@@ Review

Before today’s surreal lockdown of more or less half of the world, a similarly dystopic scenario was intercepted among mysterious radio frequencies. An algorithm-machines dominated reality, where a mysterious DIVA EXPERIMENTAL – a character that “lives across multiple bodies in space virtue of her persecution” – launched its freedom message escaping authoritarian surveillance.

This is the starting point for @@@@@, the latest project of Venezuelan producer Arca. Coming from an intense period of live-show and multi-fields collaboration, it’s her first official release following her 2017 self-titled album, even if the title’s more evident reference is her 2013 mixtape &&&&&. Otherwise @@@@@ in its form doesn’t resemble anything already seen in Alejandra Ghersi’s discography: originally livestreamed on NTS Radio and namely published as an one-hour long single track, it’s a flux made by the succession of baisc elements that define the whole, minimal structures that can stand on their own and interact with each other, and that she eloquently calls quantum.

Beyond the definitions – certainly a way to escape any algorithm-framed description – its complexity, variety and duration make it quite far from the usual idea of a single. There are ethereal noise moments and erratic rhythms, but in each second you can feel, tumultuous, Arca’s distinctive signs, in the mystic synths or in the heavely processed vocals. In “No Me Lo Digas”, one the most powerful quantum (around minute 34:00), her pitched vocals, fragile but determined, implore until they get lost tortured by machines. Otherwise in “Psychosexual” (23:00) her robot-like processed voice launches a proclamation of sexual liberation, while the synth strings surrounded chorus of “Form” (55:00) seem to come from an eternal and blissful dimension. In a passionate crescendo, the second part of this stunning flux encloses unconventional dance gems: especialy “Apurro” (42:00), with its high-speed, post-industrial bass vibes, so visceral and immediate.

Once again, Alejandra Ghersi reminds us why she’s one of the most creative and prolific musicians of our age. In this uncommon 62 minutes long single she shapes intelligible music for a dystopian, AI-dominated future that seems closer than ever to us. In our present, already dominated by algorithms, @@@@@ challenges the rules experimenting an impenetrable and emotional language.

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