An admission: this time last week I don’t think I’d ever heard – or at least paid enough attention to – the name Guy Sigsworth. For more astute music fans out there however – Gia Margaret included – he’s one of the more celebrated producers of the last 20 years, working with artists including Björk, Goldie, Madonna, Kate Havnevik, Alison Moyet, AURORA and so (so) many more. With a call sheet like that it’s perhaps unsurprising that his remix of Solid Heart sounds absolutely sublime, transforming the lo-fi, duskiness of the original into a slick, downtempo electronic cut complete with a little flurry of cascading synths as delicate and bewitching as you could possibly hope for.
Music was one of the few things that made 2020 bearable, and Gia Margaret’s album Mia Gargaret stood out amidst even the best releases of the year due to its almost paralysing beauty. Solid Gold came out today, and unsurprisingly it’s wonderful, with yearning, Americana-esque guitars lolling gently in the background accompanied by a steady, hushed pulse of percussion. With or without her voice, she’s one of the most consistently mesmerising artists out there, and we should treasure her.
So: that was 2020. Not one we’ll look back on especially fondly, to say the least, and yes, it’s arguably so obvious that it’s not worth mentioning, but in relation to end-of-year lists, it’s important to acknowledge the effect the pandemic has had on the way we’ve listened to music.
Unlike every other year in living memory, the overwhelming majority of music has been experienced at home, occasionally with friends, but more often than not alone. And while music produced as a direct result of covid didn’t start to appear until halfway though the year, what we chose the listen to has undoubtedly been shaped by our relative isolation.
There are albums on this list alone that probably would have been higher had live music been on the agenda, and others still that haven’t appeared at all. Not that quiet introspection was necessarily all we wanted by any means, but any list published should be done so with the caveat that some artists and their albums have suffered more than others without the visceral thrills of experiencing them live, loud and – most importantly – alongside other people.
Regardless, the year has seen the release of some truly sublime bodies of work. Here are my very favourites of an outrageously good bunch.
While touring her last album There’s Always A Glimmer, Gia Margaret lost her voice, forcing her to prematurely end the tour and spending several weeks at home to recuperate. Initially removing herself from from music entirely, she eventually started playing around with her synthesiser and piano, and had soon written and recorded an album’s worth of (almost wordless) ambient. Mia Gargaret came out last week and is thoroughly beautiful, and 3 movements is just one of many highlights.