9. Arca, 'Arca'
Until now, the visionary gifts of Alejandro "Arca" Ghersi have lain contorted alongside a gorgeously baffling, maze-like path. The Venezuelan composer-producer has worked at extremes, exploring pain and vulnerability by garbling musical signals and mangling syntaxes. On his self-titled third studio album, he's still at it (one track is nothing but the sound of a bullwhip); but he's also more surprisingly intimate, less an enigmatic virus fucking with your hard drive and more an aching sylph emanating from your keyboard. For one thing, he returns to his teen love of singing. Vocalizing boldly in Spanish and English, he lolls vowels in his throat or sends phrases gliding and howling across his tongue. Ghersi even tries to fit all his stylistic impulses and tics into pleasing pop structures – "Reverie" turns drunken strings and symphonic wheezes into a soundtrack-ready showstopper; and the gorgeously winsome "Desafio" swells majestically. C.A.