When I think of Gia Margaret, the first thing that comes to mind is her silky, sultry voice and her romantic lyrics; but when she was unfortunately stripped of her main instrument due to an illness, a crushing event that could render most singers crippled and helpless, she used this opportunity to showcase how truly musically-talented she is, by making an almost entirely instrumental record. Mia Gargaret illustrates the pain and the healing process she went through – “After having to cancel tours because of illness, I was unable to sing for nearly half of the year. This left me feeling like a shell of myself, so I turned to my synthesizer for comfort. These compositions helped me hold onto my identity as a music maker. At times this music helped soothe my anxiety more than therapy or anything else could”, she says.
Margaret manages to paint several devastatingly dreamy landscapes in the listener’s mind; and although all of them picturesque, there is a slight loneliness that grasps you and leaves you with a slight ache in your chest. In her opening track ‘apathy’, she uses excerpts from a recording of her vocal therapist, which is a painful yet necessary reminder of the trauma she went through and her path to recovery. “I wanted to capture the feeling of a truly strange time in my life, even though I would prefer to forget it altogether. This process helped me understand something about myself, & hopefully it can help others, too”, Margaret says.
‘body’ uses samples of a lecture from British philosopher Alan Watts, who was a continuous source of solace, an alleviation and distraction from her then current circumstances. She was given permission to use these samples by his son Mark Watts in exchange for the usage of ‘body’ in his documentary about his late father.
Using field recordings she recorded herself from her day to day life, such as footsteps, chiming church bells, birdsong and moving bodies of water, further elevates the sonic imagery of her music, layering over sustained, swelling pad synthesisers, and the tinkering of her piano which helps to drive some of her tracks. ‘lakes’ instantly transports you to a memory of dipping your toes into cold, crisp water on a warm, pleasant afternoon, making us city dwellers immediately yearn after a day surrounded by nature.
The pace of the entire album is unhurried and gradual, giving the listener an opportunity to stop and breathe. Arriving at her final track ‘lesson’, we are surprisingly gifted her only track with vocals, completely throwing us off guard; a strong symbol for the end of her strenuous and challenging journey and a taster to get you excited for what she has in store for her listeners. It must be said, her vocals are sorely missed, and being truthful on the first listen, I did constantly anticipate her voice to come in with each track automatically. Part of me would be a little bit saddened not to hear it, though this is what makes ‘lesson’ such a special track.
Although this record isn’t the follow-up to the outstanding There’s Always Glimmer that she, and perhaps her listeners had anticipated, it serves as an honest, immersive piece of art that is essential to both herself and others who are in need of healing; a personal and reflective journey of a terrible time, remodelled into an album worthy of crawling into and living inside of. This record is patience and endurance personified, teaching us to slow down and appreciate the things around us, making it entirely worth the wait for her next project.