Is it any wonder that the world’s most beloved eccentric, Björk, brought the Venezuelan artist Arca (né Alejandro Ghersi) into her production circle? His music’s odd contours and sonic rabbit-holes in which to disappear are perfect for the mysterious Icelandic musician, yet as a solo artist the openly gay Arca has been more ‘question mark’ than known commodity.
His third, eponymously-titled record — out today, April 7 — may not change that, but it’s a step towards definition. The 12 tracks – sung in Spanish and English – are beautifully creepy, as are Arca’s simple, evocative videos. Take a look at “Reverie” (below) wherein a cyborg satyr, in semi-toreador finery and ass-less fishnets, emotes with the purity of a choirboy while stumbling around confined space and, in one graphic close-up, smearing rectal blood across his buttocks. You might want to look away, but you probably won’t.
Arca’s music has antecedents. No doubt many of them are Venezuelan and beyond my knowledge. But his Western influences I hear clearly: the fraught isolation of Perfume Genius; the genuine awe of Anohni (back when she was still Antony Hegarty); the classical grace of Nico Muhly; and, absolutely, his musical benefactor, Ms. Guðmundsdóttir. He is the latest in a growing list of gay artists with a capital ‘A’ who both demand and deserve our attention.