Feel Seen

by Jim Di Gioia

August 20, 2018

Mingjia, Feel Seen album art

Voices are at the heart of Feel Seen from Toronto-based composer Mingjia.


When you think about it, our voice is a multi-faceted tool. It can be our best defence against isolation and invisibility and our fiercest weapon against hate and injustice. Losing our voice can be just as crippling and debilitating as losing any of our five senses. Though not explicitly about voices, they are at the heart of *Feel Seen* from Toronto-based composer Mingjia Chen, who records and performs as Mingjia.

“I Had A Mouth Once” opens with her own voice, crystalline and refined, soaring ahead of her neoclassical arrangement. “Floatwalking” is inspired by hearing author Andrew Forsthoefel speak about travelling across America on foot, listening to the stories of the people he met along the way and describing the various types of walking he experienced. “Friends” is a veritable sound collage of voices, all describing what having a friend means to them. “Friend,” *Feel Seen*’s final composition, finds Mingjia’s own voice return to the centre as a delicate tune lushly blooms around her.  

It’s striking how, in just four compositions, Mingjia manages to communicate an opera’s worth of feelings and emotions, firing all of our senses together at once. We hear her, we feel her, and if you close your eyes and focus on that mellifluous voice, you can see Mingjia’s music take shape in front of you as well.

Jim Di Gioia

Jim founded the music blog Quick Before It Melts in 2006 and was its principal writer until 2016, when its decade-long run ended 10 years to the day it started. DOMINIONATED is its spiritual successor. Jim currently serves as a Polaris Music Prize jurist and Prism Prize jurist.
Jim Di Gioia

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