Arca – KiCk iii: Review

On the second day of December, Santa Arca gave us: volume 3 of the KiCk series. 

Okay, I know that didn’t have proper rhythm, and frankly, it resembles the stagnant and slightly forgettable nature of volume 3 of KiCk by Arca. It isn’t to say that it is an empty void that feels like a stoppage gap between 1 & 2 and 4 & 5. But it isn’t as vibrant as the former. Arca is diving back to her old self with outlandish and spectacular chaos; unfortunately, it never feels as refreshing as 2, considering this new foray into a hybrid of reggaeton, cumbia, electronic, and techno. Here, Arca is diluting the new – leaving it as a subtle presence through her rhythms – becoming retroactively keen on the old as the essence of noise and deconstructed dance breathes over most of the album. KiCk iii is a step back for Arca, showing some growth with her instrumentals – it is forgettable, only containing a few songs of note.

Unlike KiCk ii, KiCk iii didn’t hit me with the same feeling, and instead, I kept wondering if I was stuck on one cohesive loop since the songs mesh into mild redundancy. Most of these songs work, but instead of finding glee in returning, you’ll want to figure out what works for you. Fortunately, it never feels like a chore as Arca stays inventive. After a semi-lackluster start, it becomes more consistent. “Bruja” comes and goes, meshing into “Incendia,” which is a solid track on its own. It emboldens dance music overtones in the instrumental, creating a blazing rhythm – it will have you up on two feet quickly. The energy and keen attention to detail when layering the danceability base with jabs of noise add fuel to some highlights. It is especially the case with some songs mid-way through the album.

From “Fiera” to parts of “Ripple,” Arca reeled me with glamorous musical production, though it’s hidden with the excess of noise overtones that sometimes work and sometimes sound redundant. It doesn’t work on “Fiera,” but it does on the following track, “Skullqueen.” It’s because it isn’t a repetition of the same frequencies. It’s a blend of slow-tempo and fast-tempo pitches and in many ways reminiscent of glitch-hop. The noise continues to elevate and dissipate, dependent on its usage; for example, aspects of “Ripple” tend to remain entrenched in a mood instead of a song with unique patterns, like the songs that follow.

“Electra Rex” and “Señorita” come to mind swiftly. “Electra Rex” sees Arca returning to rapping with this noise-infused banger that continues to explore themes from the last KiCk while expressing itself with grace and beauty. With “Electra Rex,” Arca subverts the story of Oedipus Rex and reworks the ending to create a visceral tale about self-love and identity – Arca creates Electra as this person that fights the complexities of identity, especially in gender. In an Instagram post about the song, Arca said, “Electra Rex is the union of masculine and feminine. It kills both mother and father and has sex with itself. The hermetic androgyne is recognition of both the ancestral and futuristic, a merger possible because of the similarities.” She focuses on creating these songs that breathe life into a community that expresses a feeling for a future with no constraints.

“Señorita” continues to exhume that veracity – Arca raps-sings with an aggressive tone as she flexes her confidence, using analogies involving sex and references to a past song: “Non-Binary,” from the first album. The production/instrumental does a great job of balancing the intensity of the percussion and noise before leaning into a softer outro. It then hits you with the incoherent mess “My 2,” but what Arca finishes the album with is a strong point I want to highlight. When the KiCk iii comes to a close, Arca shifts the production from being noise-centric to incorporating more intimate orchestrations like the classical on strings on the final two tracks – more specifically, “Joya.” The title translates to jewel in English, and the way the production uses a somber glitch-overlay that synchronizes beautifully with the strings as it emboldens Arca’s message to the listeners that we are one; we are all jewels. It’s a monstrous and warming ending that boasts these feelings of understanding and growth relative to you.

KiCk iii is a slight step back, though it isn’t all bad. Arca still has a lot that works and stuff that doesn’t. But the way she intricately creates great noise-glitch hybrids adds a different complexion to the album and decent follow-up to ii. Unfortunately, I’ll see myself returning more to i and ii before iii.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

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