On Impulse

Published November 13, 2014

Until now, Alejandro Ghersi, also known as Arca, might best be known as a DJ and producer who has worked on Kanye West’s Yeezus, FKA Twigs’s EP2, and Björk’s forthcoming album. But this month, with the release of his first LP, Xen, the 25-year-old from Caracas, Venezuela, claims the mantle of electronic-musician genius in his own right. “First thought, best thought,” a favorite Buddhist tenet of the late cellist Arthur Russell, has been Ghersi’s personal inspiration as he creates strikingly organic pieces that combine acoustic strings, distorted synthesizers, and sparse, manipulated vocals. Ghersi deliberately embraces all sides of his character: “A very naive, pure voice writes the music, and a more complicated one edits it,” he says. Xen is full of tension and contrast: from the spacious, delicate soundscape of “Failed” to the frenetic, odd-metered violins of “Family Violence.” “Internally we have so many different parts, both positive and negative,” Ghersi says. “And if you force them together, a spark comes out.”