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Alejandra Ghersi (born October 14, 1989), better known by her stage name Arca, is a Venezuelan experimental electronic producer, songwriter, mixing engineer, and DJ.

She is known for her futuristic, extremely detailed production (involving, among other things, non-quantized sequencing and microtonal manipulation), and her audiovisual work with filmmaker Jesse Kanda, which is usually very Uncanny Valley-esque and akin to a modern-day equivalent of the Aphex Twin/Chris Cunningham duo.

Her work deals with themes of queer identity and sexual violence while often sidestepping explicit acknowledgement of it through lyrics. Many of her music videos, however, show these themes.

Although she's recognized for her work with other artists, contributing to works from FKA twigs, Björk, Kelela, Frank Ocean, and Kanye West, her solo work is no slouch, either.

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Discography:

  • Baron Libre (EP) (2012)
  • Stretch 1 (EP) (2012)
  • Stretch 2 (EP) (2012)
  • &&&&& (mixtape) (2013)
  • Xen (album) (2014)
  • Sheep (mixtape) (2015)
  • Mutant (album) (2015)
  • Entrañas (mixtape) (2016)
  • Arca (album) (2017)
  • @@@@@ (single) (2020)
  • KiCk i (album) (2020)
  • Madre (EP) (2021)
  • KICK ii (album) (2021)
  • KicK iii (album) (2021)
  • kick iiii (album) (2021)
  • kiCK iiiii (album) (2021)

Provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Ambient: While this has always been part of her sound, it comes to the forefront in Madre and kiCK iiiii.
  • Body Backup Drive: Diva Experimental on @@@@@.
  • Body Horror: Distorted figures resembling humans and animals are a staple of her work with Jesse Kanda.
  • Cover Version: "Mother" is a reinterpretation of "Decisive Battle" from Final Fantasy X.
  • Darker and Edgier: The material on Mutant is way darker, aggressive and industrial than it was on her previous album.
    • Entrañas is even darker, featuring more abstract rhythms, heavier drums, and downright omninous vocal melodies.
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  • Deranged Animation: A staple of her work with Jesse Kanda is strange, humanoid figures often contorted or distorted in inhuman manners.
  • Distinct Double Album: The kick albums are a distinct quintuple album!
  • Dream Team:
    • She has collaborated with Björk on her eighth album, Vulnicura and her ninth, Utopia. Björk would return the favor on KiCk i via "Afterwards".
    • She worked with FKA twigs on the entirety of her second EP, and a few tracks from her debut album.
    • With Kelela on a few tracks from her 2015 EP, Hallucinogen and a few tracks from her debut, Take Me Apart.
    • What made her popular, at least among critics, was her work with Kanye West on a few tracks from Yeezus.
    • She is given credits for programming on a track from Frank Ocean's Endless.
    • With SOPHIE on "La Chiqui" and Rosalía on "KLK", both from KiCk i.
  • Drone of Dread: “Matriarch”, ”Piel”, and “Sin Rumbo” all have bassy drones. In “Matriarch”, It’s accompanied by sheep calls drowned in reverb.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: She used to have a project called Nuuro, which was just simple, glitchy electropop sung in Spanish.
  • Epic Rocking: "Mutant" is seven and a half minutes long.
    • @@@@@ is longer than any of her albums, despite being categorized as a single.
    • Every track on Madre is longer than seven minutes.
  • Epileptic Flashing Lights: Used extensively in the video for "Xen".
  • Ethereal Choir: “Immortal” and “Hymn”, both processed in ways that make them sound even more otherworldly.
  • Fan Disservice: The "Reverie" video dedicates a lot of screen time to her ass...which happens to be smeared with blood.
    • The video for "Sad Bitch" has Xen dancing nude while wounds slowly grow on her.
  • Genre-Busting: Her music has drawn influence from reggaeton, industrial, ambient, IDM, Latin American folk music, and art pop among other things, but even that doesn't help describe how strange her sound design is. Her style even seems to change from album to album. Xen is mostly glitchy beats over ambient pieces, Mutant is a heavy, formless industrial thing, her self-titled has operatic vocals, and KiCk i is basically deconstructed reggaeton.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Her "alter ego" Xen (from which her debut album is named after), is one of this.
    • In fact, a lot of the imagery used in her projects seems to invoke this.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The intro to "Mutant" features harsh, glitchy bass sounds and what sounds like yelling.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each "kick" album is capitalized differently.
  • Improvisation: Reportedly, a lot of Xen was improvised during its production.
  • Intercourse with You: KICK ii and KicK iii are full of these songs, but "Rakata" and "Señorita" stand out as being especially obvious.
  • Last Note Nightmare: Arca's music tends to invert this, with tracks starting out horrific and ending beautiful.
    • "Mutant" opens with harsh, glitchy bass sounds and yelling, only to end with gorgeous pads.
    • "Turnt"/"Girasol" opens with what sounds like a woman screaming for her life, only for that to fade out into a haunting vocal melody.
    • "Sin Rumbo" opens with a Drone of Dread and stays there for most of the song, but the ending is a lovely piano melody. The Entrañas version zigzags this, as it has loud fireworks after the melody.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: While it does sound a bit dark, the track "Desafío" from her third album is very upbeat, possibly the most accessible song she has ever done. However, lyrically, it seems to be about a painful breakup, from a submissive point of view.
  • Lonely Piano Piece: The pianos are either synthesized or heavily processed in bizarre ways, but it's there. "Peonies" is probably the most straight-forward example, but others include "Held Apart" and "Gratitud", which is a lonely harpsichord piece.
  • Longest Song Goes Last: "No Queda Nada", which closes out KiCk i.
  • Lucky Charms Title: &&&&& and @@@@@. How you pronounce &&&&& is anyone’s guess, but @@@@@ is also known as ‘Arroba’.
  • New Sound Album: Her self-titled album in comparison to the first two, as it is vocal-centered.
    • KiCk i heavily features elements of Neoperro.
    • kiCK iiiii is almost entirely ambient piano pieces.
  • One-Word Title: It's probably easier to count the songs that don't have one word titles.
  • The Oner: The video for "Reverie".
  • "Psycho" Strings: "Family Violence".
  • Self-Titled Album: Her third studio album, considering it focuses on her singing voice and all other name options felt wrong.
  • Sampling: "Baby Doll" prominently features "Beatrix" by Cocteau Twins.
    • The original release of “Anaesthetic” features the iconic “Na na na na” off of Dr. Dre's “The Next Episode.” This was later removed in the 2020 rerelease.
  • Shout-Out: “Esuna”,“Balamb Garden”, and “Spira” all reference Final Fantasy in their title.
    • “Xenomorphgirl” references Alien.
  • Siamese Twin Songs: "Prada" —> "Rakata" (who also share the same music video, to boot) and "Turnt" —> "Girasol".
  • Spoken Word in Music: "Sanctuary" and "Crown" both feature spoken passages.
  • The Something Song: “Whoresong”
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: KicK iii is full of industrial bangers about sex, but ends with "Joya", a love song without any heavier elements.
  • Squat's In A Name: She has publicly stated that from the album Xen, only one song title out of 15 has an actual meaning ("Failed", which is about her boyfriend at the time, Daniel Sannwald). This hasn't stopped people from further theorizing, though.
  • Surreal Music Video: The modus operandi of anytime she works with Jesse Kanda to the point that some have started calling them the modern-day Aphex Twin and Chris Cunningham.
  • Textless Album Cover: Sheep, Mutant, Entrañas, the self-titled, and the digital/streaming edition of KiCk i.
  • Title Confusion: "Waste" has often been mistakenly called "DM True" (which is actually the song directly preceding it on &&&&&); this can partially be attributed to it being referred to as such in the credits for the game Succulent, which introduced a lot of people to the song.
  • Title-Only Chorus: Aside from the intro, “Rip The Slit” is almost entirely variations on its title.


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