Ioanna Gika is a Greek American artist whose debut solo album Thalassa is out today. The album is named in honour of the Greek spirit of the sea, which I mention if only to highlight the sense of aural vastness and awe that Gika is establishing here. The epic opening track ‘Roseate’, in all its sophistication and variety, complexity and beauty, acts as a sonic manifesto. It points the way towards what Gika intends to do with the rest of the album. The sound is both expansive and complex, atmospheric and soundscape-y. It is all absorbing and overwhelming.
Within this piece of work there are industrial percussion elements set against soaring ethereal vocals and electro atmospherics, while at the same time light and dark sonic elements wrap themselves around each other in tendrils. From the eerie piano of the title track, to the exhilarating giddiness and elemental wildness of ‘Messenger’, with its fast electronic percussion and soaring vocals, it feels primal in nature. There are jagged string sections, layers of reverb, and passages of dark, sonic foreboding alongside ethereal beauty.
The single ‘Swan’ is an atmospheric and minimalistic piece, complex and poignantly raw in its emotional palette. Whereas ‘Weathervane’ has a ghostly, wistful element to it which is underpinned by industrial style percussion. Gika sounds like a mournful siren, standing on the rocks and looking out to sea during ‘No Matter What’, but ‘Ammonite’ is a dark pop song with solid foundations. Closing track ‘Drifting’ is simply elegant in its concept, the aural equivalent of a dragonfly flitting across a lake lit by sunshine; its motif is what sounds like a high speed harp, twinkling magically in the sunshine.
This is a tremendous album, one that is awe inspiring in scale and haunting in quality. Not to be missed.
Thalassa, the debut album from Ioanna Gika, is out now via Sargent House.