Nothing about the way Ghersi tackles sound is traditional. Consider that "Slit Thru," which is essentially a trip-hop track, sticks out on Xen simply because of how normal it sounds. This is an elusive record that's surprising almost every time you listen to it. Ghersi's butterfingers style of songwriting is both fascinating and frustrating—it's clear that he's in full control at all times, but he makes otherwise beautiful songs like "Sad Bitch" and "Family Violence" feel volatile. These two have baroque classical touches that come out in frantic spurts, and their titles reflect an emotional undercurrent that comes and goes as quickly as any other element of the album. There's also "Lonely Thug," which seems to poke fun at the sad-boy persona of modern hip-hop with its immaculately hurt synths and perfectly booming drum pattern. But even that one's not as simple as it looks: it's based on a "fantasy character" of Ghersi's who is both eroticized and ridiculed. That's the thing about this music—it's always more complex than it sounds.
Ghersi's most alluring quality has always been his slipperiness. After all, Xen is a tale of fluidity and self-discovery, and just as any one person can transcend identities forced on her by others, so can music. The result is an album that's never quite what you want it to be, nor for that matter is it any one thing for more than a few minutes. A noted producer for some incredibly influential artists (with Björk next on the list), Arca has expectations placed on him that would terrify most artists his age (24 at the time of writing). You wouldn't know it from Xen, however, which remains as singular—and often as brilliant—as the rest of the Arca catalogue.