Last week, Arca’s self-titled new album finally saw the light, after he previewed it with five devastatingly intense tracks that showcased the producer’s constant evolution. For this project, Alejandro Ghersi returned to singing, an old talent he put aside for years. Through his haunting vocals, he channels the raw emotion and melodies of tonadas, the Venezuelan tradition present on all of his recent singles, but more prominently on the Simón Díaz-referencing “Reverie.” But out of all the songs on Arca, there’s one in particular that stood out for taking a left turn.
“Desafío” is Arca’s unexpected pop moment. The track echoes Top 40 hits and incorporates them into Arca’s singular production style. In an impressive exercise of restraint, he holds back and doesn’t blow out the beat, keeping things nuanced and supporting his fragile, breathy falsetto.
Ghersi and longtime collaborator Jesse Kanda teamed up again for this video. Like its predecessors, “Desafío” is fairly more elegant and glossy than the grotesque CGI characters or twisted images shown in the visuals for his previous albums. In the clip, Arca writhes around in a black leather straitjacket, as four men drag him across the woods. Blue and red lights echo the song’s opening sirens, giving the feeling that Arca is being chased by an unidentified predator. But Arca continues to show love and tenderness, even to his captors.
Read our feature on the diasporic loss and queer rebellion of Arca’s new album here.
Arca’s self-titled third album is out now on XL Recordings.