Xen (album)

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Arca Xen album cover.jpg
Studio album by
Released4 November 2014 (2014-11-04)
Arca chronology
Digital deluxe edition cover[3]
Arca Xen alt cover.jpg
Singles from Xen
  1. "Thievery"
    Released: 30 September 2014
  2. "Now You Know"
    Released: 31 October 2014
  3. "Xen"
    Released: 17 November 2014
  4. "Sad Bitch" / "Wound"
    Released: 16 April 2015

Xen is the debut studio album by Venezuelan electronic musician Arca, released on 4 November 2014 through Mute Records.[4] The album was recorded over a largely improvised six-month period in 2014.[5]


The title of the album is a reference to Ghersi's "feminine spirit" as portrayed in the album artwork and videos. According to the artist, the designer Jesse Kanda asked "if I had a girl's name when I was a kid, I told him that I have this image in my head when I listen to a song of mine that I really love or that I feel happy with. I move really slowly in a very effeminate way [and] close my eyes and I see this naked being who exists in front of an audience. Everyone is simultaneously attracted to it and repulsed".[6]

Upon reflection she felt that "Those were all projections of my psyche; of how I viewed my own sexuality and how I engaged with people through the lens of sensuality. Xen is an 'it'. I lean towards calling Xen 'her' in response to the fact that society historically leans towards men having more power. Me calling Xen 'her' is an equalisation of that."[6] This is reflected in the video for the song "Thievery". Ghersi noted that the song-titles have little meaning except for "Failed" which was written about her boyfriend Daniel Sannwald.[6]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[8]
Consequence of SoundA−[9]
Mojo3/5 stars[11]
The Observer4/5 stars[12]
Q4/5 stars[13]
Resident Advisor3.5/5[14]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[15]

At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 79, based on 22 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[7] AllMusic said "the way Arca plays with and decorates time, letting sounds and moods mutate spontaneously, makes Xen a complete picture of his artistry and also promises much more."[8] Clash described the album as a "captivating, at times unexplainable reaching of pained highs and battered lows."[17] Consequence of Sound stated that Arca's "time alongside Gesaffelstein added to his understanding of the space between beats, and the emotive power of these hesitations."[9] The Observer said Xen is "one of those albums that elegantly restates the appeal of digital music, expressing hues and states of being that fall outside the analogue spectrum."[12]

Pitchfork stated: "Taken as a whole, it is an album about unstable unities, things that cannot easily hold together, wholes breaking to pieces and being put back together again in new and unfamiliar shapes."[2] PopMatters said: "This is uncompromising stuff, with little holding back, and the end effect is one that wears not just its heart, but its soul, on its sleeve."[1] Resident Advisor said "Xen remains as singular–and often as brilliant–as the rest of the Arca catalogue."[14] Fact wrote: "Even if his chops as a producer aren't in question, the writing on Xen is too patchy to fully realise Ghersi's ambitions. Still, it's hardly lacking in ideas."[18]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Alejandra Ghersi.

Standard edition[4]
1."Now You Know"3:58
2."Held Apart"1:20
4."Sad Bitch"1:55
6."Slit Thru"2:12
8."Family Violence"2:13
10."Lonely Thugg"2:56
13."Bullet Chained"2:51


Chart (2014) Peak
Japanese Albums (Oricon)[22] 109
US Dance/Electronic Albums (Billboard)[23] 8
US Independent Albums (Billboard)[23] 47
US Top Heatseekers Albums (Billboard)[23] 6


  1. ^ a b Houle, Zachary (17 November 2014). "Arca: Xen". PopMatters. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Sherburne, Philip (3 November 2014). "Arca: Xen". Pitchfork. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  3. ^ "Xen (Digital Edition)". iTunes. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Xen by Arca on Apple Music". iTunes. 4 November 2014. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  5. ^ Friedlander, Emilie (30 September 2014). "Cover Story: Arca Finds Xen". The Fader.
  6. ^ a b c Gorton, Thomas. "Arca: Xen Master". Dazed. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Xen by Arca". Metacritic. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  8. ^ a b Phares, Heather. "Xen – Arca". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  9. ^ a b Staples, Derek (24 November 2014). "Arca – Xen". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  10. ^ Wheeler, S. (24 November 2014). "Arca". Mixmag. Archived from the original on 28 November 2014. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  11. ^ "Arca: Xen". Mojo (254): 94. January 2015.
  12. ^ a b Empire, Kitty (2 November 2014). "Arca: Xen review – producer Alejandro Ghersi's elegant, chromatic debut". The Observer. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  13. ^ "Arca: Xen". Q (342): 120. January 2015.
  14. ^ a b Ryce, Andrew (4 November 2014). "Arca – Xen". Resident Advisor. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  15. ^ Shepherd, Julianne Escobedo (5 November 2014). "Xen". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  16. ^ "Arca: Xen". Uncut (211): 71. December 2014.
  17. ^ Oliver, Matt (7 November 2014). "Arca – Xen". Clash. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  18. ^ Kalev, Maya (10 November 2014). "Xen". Fact. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  19. ^ Arca (4) - Xen (CD, Album) at Discogs
  20. ^ a b Arca (4) - Xen (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs
  21. ^ "Xen (????? Edition)". apple. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  22. ^ "ゼン" (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  23. ^ a b c "Xen – Arca Awards". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 7 December 2014.