When I reviewed Arca’s debut album, Xen, last year, I said that I had never heard anything quite like it. Overall my impression remained that the disorienting effect of the album was easily surpassed by the thrill of hearing something so original. Watching Arca put on a stunning show at the Masonic Lodge at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, aided by visuals from long-time collaborator and seemingly symbiotic creative partner Jesse Kanda (whose album cover design for FKA Twigs might be familiar to you), only reaffirmed what I previously thought about the young Venezuelan producer: this is a man whose only touchstone is his own imagination.

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All photos by Laura Chirinos

Arca is an artist beholden to no current trends, forging a path entirely of his own making. I expected an evening of cool music and cooler visuals and ended up blown away by a night of mind-altering, genre-bending art and fearless performance.

Arca was the guy behind the decks, the sharply dressed pop star, the manic performer getting down in the crowd. Watching his trailblazing performance it became easier to see why he appealed to Björk when she was looking for collaborators for her latest album. Arca shares the Icelandic artist’s complete lack of façade and balls-to-the-wall honesty as a musician.

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Having said that, it’s impossible to talk about the show without talking about Jesse Kanda. The young filmmaker has been a collaborator since both he and Arca met online in their early teens, and his work bears the imprint of the likes of David Lynch and Chris Cunningham while remaining very much its own thing.

Arca’s warped beats and dissonant, clashing melodies were perfectly accentuated by Kanda’s visuals, which featured startling images of inverted beauty. Sensual and sexual moves were performed by human-like but disturbing shapes, yet the image of boils exploding on a figure’s back became a strangely moving and contemplative moment.

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The show demanded both the complete attention of the audience and a strong reaction from it. At times, Arca demanded noise from the crowd and got plenty of it, but you can’t blame an Arca audience for being regularly spellbound into silence. This was a true audio-visual feast, one that fired the synapses and sucked you in deeper than most musicians could imagine.

Both Arca and Jesse Kanda produce work of a depth and ambiguity that provokes response, yet the time for reflection has come in the days since. We had no time for drifting too far into those thoughts when the performance in front of us was so visceral. It’s difficult to know how to sum up the hour or so that Arca kept us enraptured. All I can say is that I’ve covered around a hundred shows for LA Music Blog, and I can count on a single hand the ones that left me in such awe.

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Emerging from the lodge and into the mild Hollywood evening, everything felt a little different. It took a moment or two to adjust to the world outside after spending an hour lost in the imaginations of two thrillingly gifted young men whose work has the potential to inspire every other young creative who comes in contact with it. I feel that neck-prickle every time I think about the show, and that just doesn’t happen very often. What an extraordinary evening.

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