Arca, according to Alejandra, is more than a pseudonym – it’s a space. The universe Arca is where binary divisions of past and future, reality and construction, truth and imagination melt. Arca’s new single @@@@@ introduces to us one of its inhabitants: Diva Experimental. The track purrs through feline cycling synths, whispers intimately and cranks with industrial weight. There is a story behind it. She imagines the 62-minute track is, in fact, a pirate radiobroadcast by Diva Experimental on analogue FM. This character uses this format to escape the authoritarian AI surveillance in her world.
Currently only released digitally, the track has an analogue quality that becomes visible with our physical interaction with it. Arca’s twitter prescribes @@@@@ contains quantum portions. These are the smallest portions of the track she can define, like short songs within the larger track. Those wishing to listen to the separate quantum parts must carefully align their cursers over the relevant numbered section, like trying to fast-forward a tape to your favourite track guessing when it appears or aligning the needle over a groove on a vinyl, as Pitchfork put it. This physical action creates a tactile interaction with the digital release which, in our shared imagination, is a radiobroadcast, not a digital mixtape.
During Alejandra’s teenage life in Venezuela, her idea of reality seems to have been marked by Hugo Chávez. Arca tweeted her favourite section of @@@@@ is Gaita (52:36), which honours her roots. In this interview she also remembers the difficulty during the cultural dictatorship. Chávez would often unexpectedly interrupt television broadcasting with his own speeches. When this happened, the public would bash pans outside their windows, as an analogue protest. Diva Experimental also prioritises analogue protest. It seems incorruptible. Equally, Chávez’s severe censorship surely encouraged Alejandra’s pushback in her music that enjoys freedom and defies boundaries. Her latest track is post-apocalyptic, but hopeful. Her navigation of reality is playful, and intelligent.