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Following 2017’s "Arca", on which Alejandra Ghersi found her voice, the alternately savage and serene "KiCk i" was the sound of Arca comprehensively owning it. "KiCk i" is our album of the year because, simply, no-one else makes art quite like Arca.

The noise surrounding "KiCk i" presaged what was meant to come: this, Arca’s fourth, would be the pop album. Or, at the very least, it would be a counterpoint to the head-in-a-vice-grip hiss of "@@@@@", a 62-minute composition that landed in February. News broke ahead of "KiCk i"'s midsummer release that both Björk and Rosalía would feature on the record, sharpening expectations for. Once the full tracklist was revealed, the appearance of Shygirl and SOPHIE further quickened the heart.

  • Artist
    Arca
    ReleaseProduct
    KiCk i
    Label
    XL Recordings
    Catalogue Number
    XL997
    Release Date
    July 17, 2020
    • Bundle:

      $30.99
      • Vinyl, 1×LP, Limited Edition Pink Vinyl

      • Art print from illustrator David Rappeneau Promo. item

      • Bleep exclusive
      • Clear Pink Vinyl
      • Limited to 500
      • Gatefold sleeve
      • 16pg booklet including images of Alejandra Ghersi’s original artworks and lyrics

      Available: December 9, 2020

    Following 2017’s “Arca”, on which Alejandra Ghersi found her voice, the alternately savage and serene “KiCk i” was the sound of Arca comprehensively owning it. “KiCk i” is our album of the year because, simply, no-one else makes art quite like Arca.

    The noise surrounding “KiCk i” presaged what was meant to come: this, Arca’s fourth, would be the pop album. Or, at the very least, it would be a counterpoint to the head-in-a-vice-grip hiss of “@@@@@”, a 62-minute composition that landed in February. News broke ahead of “KiCk i”’s midsummer release that both Björk and Rosalía would feature on the record, sharpening expectations for. Once the full tracklist was revealed, the appearance of Shygirl and SOPHIE further quickened the heart.

    Is “KiCk i” pop? Well, yes and no. No in the sense that the album’s songwriting doesn’t cleave to traditional structure, and scattered remnants of Arca’s twisted-balloon beats and whorls of manic energy still litter the path. ‘Riquiquí’ isn’t getting drivetime radio play any time soon.

    Yes in the sense that pop is about confidence, authority and projecting a clearly-defined image. Arca describes her own music as a “speculation” – hedging bets on a future within reach, but still far enough away that you need to make the effort to grab it and draw it close to the present. “KiCk i” is Arca’s vision of pop, and that’s what is important. As she sings on ‘Nonbinary’, “I do what I wanna do when I wanna do it.” So here is the proof: a generational figurehead swerving between lanes of synthpop, sharp-heeled rap, torch song, reggaetón and crumpled electronics in a vehicle that could only be hers.

    Where Arca’s music was once anti-melodical and dyspeptic, now it fringes rapture. ‘Time’, a fan favourite since its appearance in Arca’s DJ sets as far back as 2018, is a blissed-out ballad that could just as well appended with ‘After Time’ and seated next to Cyndi Lauper’s ‘80s staple in the slow-dance hall of fame forevermore. Another moment of grace arrives when ‘Calor’ unfolds to reveal multiple-tracked vocals, a Greek Chorus of Ghersis.

    Toward the middle of the album, just when it feels like Arca is getting comfortable in the clothes of “Vespertine”-era Björk, in floats actual Björk. It was the Icelandic artist’s encouragement which led Arca to first lean into singing on 2017’s revelatory “Arca”, and here the pair combine beautifully over the swooning ‘Afterwards’.

    Not long after “KiCk i” was released, PAN reissued 2013’s “&&&&&” – originally a Hippos In Tanks tape, and the point at which (alongside production credits on Kanye West’s lacerating “Yeezus”) Arca’s story truly began in the public consciousness. Putting the two releases side-by-side teases out Arca’s progression into the artist we know now. “KiCk i” still retains an imprint of that foundational tape, especially on the contorted ‘Rip The Slit’ and ‘La Chiqui’. But for the most part, the gap is chasmic; the metamorphosis complete.

    The fact that the “KiCk i” can be considered even vaguely pop-adjacent is a credit to just how far Arca has come, and how much she has shown us since dropping out of a portal in the sky in the early 2010s. She has bent us toward her reality through sheer force of will. It’s impossible to guess what the follow-up will sound or look like, which is why we stay hooked – and why we can't look past Arca as the boldest and brightest star in a year of insularity and darkness.

    Digital Track List

    1. 1 Nonbinary Arca 2:19 Buy
    2. 2 Time Arca 2:45 Buy
    3. 3 Mequetrefe Arca 2:20 Buy
    4. 4 Riquiquí Arca 2:39 Buy
    5. 5 Calor Arca 3:32 Buy
    6. 6 Afterwards Arca feat. Björk 4:02 Buy
    7. 7 Watch Arca feat. Shygirl 2:28 Buy
    8. 8 KLK Arca feat. Rosalía 3:47 Buy
    9. 9 Rip The Slit Arca 2:54 Buy
    10. 10 La Chíqui Arca feat. SOPHIE 2:47 Buy
    11. 11 Machote Arca 2:57 Buy
    12. 12 No Queda Nada Arca 5:37 Buy

Is "KiCk i" pop? Well, yes and no. No in the sense that the album’s songwriting doesn’t cleave to traditional structure, and scattered remnants of Arca’s twisted-balloon beats and whorls of manic energy still litter the path. 'Riquiquí' isn’t getting drivetime radio play any time soon.

Yes in the sense that pop is about confidence, authority and projecting a clearly-defined image. Arca describes her own music as a "speculation" – hedging bets on a future within reach, but still far enough away that you need to make the effort to grab it and draw it close to the present. "KiCk i" is Arca’s vision of pop, and that’s what is important. As she sings on 'Nonbinary', "I do what I wanna do when I wanna do it." So here is the proof: a generational figurehead swerving between lanes of synthpop, sharp-heeled rap, torch song, reggaetón and crumpled electronics in a vehicle that could only be hers.

Where Arca’s music was once anti-melodical and dyspeptic, now it fringes rapture. 'Time', a fan favourite since its appearance in Arca’s DJ sets as far back as 2018, is a blissed-out ballad that could just as well appended with 'After Time' and seated next to Cyndi Lauper’s ‘80s staple in the slow-dance hall of fame forevermore. Another moment of grace arrives when 'Calor' unfolds to reveal multiple-tracked vocals, a Greek Chorus of Ghersis.

Toward the middle of the album, just when it feels like Arca is getting comfortable in the clothes of "Vespertine"-era Björk, in floats actual Björk. It was the Icelandic artist’s encouragement which led Arca to first lean into singing on 2017’s revelatory "Arca", and here the pair combine beautifully over the swooning 'Afterwards'.

Bleep Album of the Year Exclusive

Made especially for you, XL Recordings have created an

Exclusive Limited Edition Clear Pink Vinyl Pressing
Limited to 500
Exclusive art print from illustrator David Rappeneau.

  • Bleep Album of the Year Exclusive
    Bleep Album of the Year Exclusive
  • 122892
  • 122893
  • 122891
  • 122890
  • 122889

Not long after "KiCk i" was released, PAN reissued 2013’s "&&&&&" – originally a Hippos In Tanks tape, and the point at which (alongside production credits on Kanye West’s lacerating "Yeezus") Arca’s story truly began in the public consciousness. Putting the two releases side-by-side teases out Arca’s progression into the artist we know now. "KiCk i" still retains an imprint of that foundational tape, especially on the contorted 'Rip The Slit' and 'La Chiqui'. But for the most part, the gap is chasmic; the metamorphosis complete.

The fact that the "KiCk i" can be considered even vaguely pop-adjacent is a credit to just how far Arca has come, and how much she has shown us since dropping out of a portal in the sky in the early 2010s. She has bent us toward her reality through sheer force of will. It’s impossible to guess what the follow-up will sound or look like, which is why we stay hooked – and why we can't look past Arca as the boldest and brightest star in a year of insularity and darkness.

More Top Albums of the Year 2020

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  • Artist
    Various Artists
    ReleaseProduct
    Top 10 Albums Of The Year 2020 Bundle
    Label
    Bleep
    Catalogue Number
    TOP102020
    Release Date
    November 30, 2020
    • Bundle:

      Pre-order $260.00
      • Arca KiCk i Vinyl, 1×LP, Limited Edition Pink Vinyl

      • Oneohtrix Point Never Magic Oneohtrix Point Never Vinyl, 2×LP, Limited Coloured Transparent orange vinyl

      • Eartheater Phoenix: Flames Are Dew Upon My Skin Vinyl, 1×LP Black vinyl

      • K-LONE Cape Cira Vinyl, 1×LP Black vinyl

      • Lyra Pramuk Fountain Vinyl, 1×LP, Limited Coloured

      • Speaker Music Black Nationalist Sonic Weaponry Vinyl, 2×LP

      • Speaker Music Black Nationalist Sonic Weaponry (Booklet) Book 60 Page Booklet

      • Duval Timothy Help Vinyl, 2×LP, Limited Coloured Milky clear vinyl

      • Actress Karma & Desire Vinyl, 2×LP, Limited Coloured Crystal Fuchsia 140g vinyl

      • Actress Bucket Hat Limited Print Print

      • Cabaret Voltaire Shadow of Fear Vinyl, 2×LP, Limited Coloured White vinyl

      • Tara Clerkin Trio Tara Clerkin Trio Vinyl, 1×LP Includes locked groove on B side

      • Arca Art print from illustrator David Rappeneau Promo. item

      • Please note this is for the
      • Cape Cira Black Vinyl edition
      • Help White Vinyl edition
      • Phoenix: Flames... Black Vinyl edition
      • Bleep x Peter Judson Black Tote Bag

      Available: March 19, 2021

    As we approach the end of 2020 we take a look back at some of our favourite music from this year. Luckily during these turbulent times some exceptional music has been made. Providing us a sonic place to escape, a place to reflect, or a place to dance.

    Always on the search for the perfect meeting between pop and experimentalism, we found it this year in KiCk I, made by one of the most compelling and innovative artist on our planet right now, Arca. Other records that found this perfect balance was the artful and beautiful avant-garde songs from Eartheater, and the profound beauty of Lyra Pramuk’s Fountain.

    Two of this century’s premier electronic musicians, Oneohtrix Point Never and Actress, created records that were both uniquely their own while inviting other artists into their sonic universe. Meanwhile, pioneering musician Richard H. Kirk came out of the shadows, with the first Cabaret Voltaire album since 1994.

    The aftershocks of the london Jazz earthquake could still be felt in the collection of musical sketches and abstract songcraft of Duval Timothy’s Help, and in the eccentric bric-a-brac of Bristol’s Tara Clerkin Trio.

    Two records of this year that could not be further apart were by K-Lone and Speaker Music. Black Nationalist Sonic Weaponry was a sonic response to the past and present events unfolding, creating a record which whilst difficult to listen to, was a crucial audio document of its time. Cape Cira on the other hand, created an oasis for us to seek refuge in, and forget what was happening around the globe.

    For some, music can be a way to escape our reality and to turn on, tune in and drop out, but for others, it is a medium to provoke, educate, and turn up. Whatever you need from your listening experience, we hope that you can find something in these ten albums to fill you up.

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