In Review: Gia Margaret – Mia Gargaret
There are very few words keeping company with the ambient, synthesiser-led music-making of Gia Margaret’s newest LP. Even more infrequent, surprisingly, are words from the artist herself. Following Margaret’s 2018 debut album There’s Always Glimmer, listeners of 2020’s Mia Gargaret might’ve expected a continuation of the artist’s quiet singer-songwriter introspection, but what is found instead within this sophomore creation is a testament to resourcefulness, creativity, and the power of musicianship as a means of emotional expression, even without words.
Losing the ability to sing following a touring illness, Margaret found life in the instruments at her disposal. Forming watery mosaics through pianos and synthesisers, layered alongside voice therapy clips and an application of coastal-found sounds reminiscent of Fleet Foxes’ Crack-Up, there is something infinitely calming about Mia Gargaret. It is lusciously arranged and wonderfully intimate in its recording, but remains honest; quietly vulnerable in the simplicity of its sound.
Margaret’s cited influences of Brian Eno and Yo La Tengo, combined with moments perhaps even evocative of Vangelis, position the album alongside an excellent company of influences. There is admittedly little transcendent nor ground-breaking innovation on offer in this ambient, keys-led album, but it is clear that Margaret never intended to create some pretentious, revolutionary sonic masterpiece.
Instead, Mia Gargaret should be approached as an exploration of personal sensations from an artist stripped of her literal voice. So effectively do songs like ‘for Zoya in China’ and ‘3 movements’ elicit an overwhelming sense of calm through near-entirely instrumental methods, that by the time Margaret’s voice does emerge, healed and restored on final track ‘lesson’ it is quite remarkable that so much has been said in the 25 minutes prior without a word of hers being sung.
What should be appreciated on this album is a reflection of sorts – Gia Margaret, but not really. A parallel figure: Mia Gargaret – resembling herself in the mirror, or submerged in her watery cover art. If this album serves as a side-project, only coming into existence as a result of sudden illness, the next album from Gia Margaret should prove to be an incredibly compelling project, so long as the artist is able to fuse this latest instrumental expressivity with the voice that we have come to miss. At 27 minutes long, the album does not ask a great deal from its listeners, instead offering an inviting hand to them and into a realm of cloudy tranquillity, complete with soft arpeggios and lectures from Alan Watts.
Mia Gargaret is out now on Dalliance Recordings.