Arca KiCk i XL Recordings
Arca’s music has, from its genesis, been a jarring sonic protest. On KiCk i, the Venezuelan artist, singer, DJ, performer and composer pairs this call to revolt with the most important root of an effective revolution: discourse.
KiCk i drips with pensive pleasure. The dancefloor has always been a space of queer liberation, of questioning and distorting gender, of finding yourself in the smoke, and the next day’s hangover. In the same way, her work has always acknowledged identity and gender as self-constructing performance. Her non-binary identity, which she honours on the defiant opening track, and the specifics of this way of seeing lend themselves well to the late-night music she makes.
KiCk i takes on several meanings: a disruption, a lowkey hangout with the girls, a futurist deconstruction of the party and the word. Arca has made music in Spanish since the onset, but KiCK i is firmly grounded in her Latinx roots. You can hear it in the shifting perreo soundscape of Mequetrefe (Venezuelan slang for a “good for nothing man”) and the roiling sex ode Riquiqui, where she explicitly names the reggaeton and dembow getting her to shake her ass as she lures in a prospective lover.
Of course, every kiki needs a solid guest list. Arca’s first time collaborating with guests is friendly, playful and cerebral as one might expect of the experimental musician. Fellow firebrand SOPHIE’s chaotic appearance on La Chiqui (a term of endearment for a friend) feels like a reimagining of Charli XCX’s Shake It (translation: menealo) between two of the queer underground’s finest. Standout KLK sees flamenco-pop force Rosalía flung headfirst into the chopped-up void of a PC reggaeton hurricane. Meanwhile, the emotive Afterwards features Björk reinterpreting Antonio Machado’s poem Anoche cuando dormía – the first time the iconic Icelandic singer has recorded in Spanish.
Every guest is inside Arca’s world despite none of them sharing her grounding in Latin America. In this aspect, the record proves an inversion of colonial influence unravelling inside a rave. What else have we come to expect from an artist who has always challenged perception, from the way she presents to the world to crafting hour-long songs with titles unfit for SEO?
Arca’s artistry lies at the crossroads of migrant Latinidad and transgender identity, shifting realities which themselves teeter between pride and sorrow. This is a love letter to queer Latinx clubkids seeking themselves on the ashen dancefloors of a damaged world. Above all, this is Arca’s kiki, and it’s open-invite. Come to dance and serve a look, stay to question the world around you, or don’t bother showing up.