Angélica Garcia – Gemelo

A powerful and evocative album...

Angélica Garcia embraces duality for ‘Gemelo’, her first album on Partisan Records. The title – the Spanish word for “twin” – refers to the twin of our intuitive self which can often be overlooked as we navigate the challenges of life. The album reflects this duality with side a reflecting the physical and emotional impact of trauma and grief, with Side B projecting the way forward, full of power in the process of asking to learn and recognising it is necessary to adapt and grow. If there is one thing that is lost in digital access to music it’s the physical action of flipping the album over and experiencing a distinct separation between the two sides.  

‘Gemelo’ is almost entirely sung in Spanish. Angélica was born in California into a Latino family structure with Mexican and El Salvadoran parents. It follows previous album ‘Cha Cha Palace’ which she shares was produced “as a love letter to my community and my family”. However realising her grandmother, a mother figure to her, couldn’t understand it, the seed of an album in Spanish was born.

Opening track ‘Reflexiones’ layers with the most beautiful vocals, a short meditative song which, as the title suggests, is inward looking. The two singles ‘Color de Dolor’ and ‘Juanita’ follow.  “What is the color of pain?”sings Angélica on the former, full of emotion, whilst the repetition on ‘Juanita’ is “Juanita, why do you call me?”, over and over. This song arrived quickly, fully formed and refers to a limitless woman “full of power and wonder”. The theme continues on the first part of ‘Gemelo’, the recognition and exploration of personal dilemmas. The expression in the vocals oozing with the intensity of such themes, beautifully executed by Angélica. ‘Ángel (eterna)’ begins with a little white noise, perhaps reflecting a lack of clarity for moving forward, and it continues with its slightly melancholy vibe. The bobbing electronic pulse, reflecting a heart beating, blends with the vocal full of a desire to find ones way. It’s a stunning track and a standout on ‘Gemelo’. ‘Mirame‘ closes out Side A. Translating to “Look at me”, it begins to show a glimmer of hope, the tempo is lighter and the percussive beats lift the pace with the required process of self-reflection leading to perhaps a glimmer of hope.

And what an opener to Side B. The exhilarating ‘Y Grito’ is a full on assault on the senses, a song once heard never forgotten. It’s a shock in comparison to the album thus far, but a wonderful blast of techno energy. This shift continues on ‘El Que’ where determination shines though in the lyric delivery. At almost five and a half minutes ‘El Que’ is the longest track on Gemelo by some way. The instrumentation is scratchy and raw, edgy and wild, closing out with slightly distorted vocal. ‘Intuición’ suggests a fighting spirit. Our intuition is a vital part of our being, and to realise that we can learn from it and use it to guide us, if we just pay attention, is an invaluable lesson. ‘Gemini’ is pointed and forthright. “I see double everywhere I go” sings Angélica but with an exuberance in the vocal layered with the exhilarating soundscape full of sharp beats and beating drums. There is a way forward and this is expressed in a track full of exhilarating emotion. Such vitality continues on final song ‘Paloma’.  Angélica has stated that this is a praise song, a celebration of experiencing the full spectrum of life, both its pain and pleasure, grief and happiness. However finding a way through is to be celebrated, and such is the essence of ‘Paloma’ a song to sing and dance to, a fitting close. 

‘Gemelo’ is an album to be listened to in its entirety to fully appreciate the range and intensity Angelica brings to her creativity. Influenced by her own story, but the themes including  identity, self expression, processing trauma, and celebrating life touch us all. Such is the ability of Angélica to articulate herself through her songs, you don’t have to understand Spanish to appreciate this powerfully emotive album.  A voice to be heard.

8/10

Words: Julia Mason

Related: To The Source: Angélica Garcia Interviewed

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