Song Premiere: Arca's 'Manners' Finds Warmth Between Extremes

Jun 27, 2012
Originally published on April 19, 2017 1:44 pm

Getting friends into new music, especially from unfamiliar or otherwise forbidding genres, can be a feat of arm-twisting — of variations on ways to yell, "Listen to this, dummy!" Sami Yenigun, who works on the NPR Arts Desk and pops up frequently on All Songs Considered, is constantly agitating on behalf of electronic and dance music, so he jumps all over questions like, "What song do you love right now?"

Sami's current fixation is a mysterious and as-yet-obscure producer who goes by the name Arca — stream "Manners" on this page — and who's set to release his debut album on the UNO NYC label in August. I'm constantly razzing Sami about the endless and vague subgenres within electronic music ("Is this dubstep or post-dubstep?"), but part of what intrigued me about Arca was the way Sami couldn't sum up the sound by simply rattling off reference points. It was all about the feel of the song:

Maybe it's the weather, but something about the sun-stroked vibes streaking across the cold atmospherics of "Manners" has me glowing. Delayed stabs ping-pong back and forth from the outset — an effect that sounds a bit like a warped steel drum, adding a shimmer to the moody pads supporting them. The track finishes with a delicately plucked kora, in a key that could fit fine in a gloomier setting, but here finds a warm spot in between the track's extremes.

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