Self-released • 2024

Miguel Maravilla’s Always is a study in expressing the very same thing in multiple ways.

Miguel Maravilla’s Always is an expression of paradox that refuses a straightforward definition of just one thing or another. The Vancouver-based Filipino-Canadian artist describes their latest work as “a thank you, a kind of remembering, a cry of despair, a love letter”. Composed of eight years of “fragments of the same word, same idea, same sound,” Always is a study in expressing the very same thing in multiple ways.

Always‘s concept is profound and playful and sonically just as rich. Just as the track titles indicate the many ways of phrasing “constant”, it is stylistically liminal, belonging to the dialogue between genres. While Always could very well end up on some indie playlists, it would be an injustice to confine it to any particular category. It easily fits in electro-folk, jazz, or ambient, blending bright acoustic guitars, spoken dialogue, dreamy synth swells, hip-hop beats, bouncy basslines, and vibes that could suit a variety of rooms at any point in time. 

What I like about this tracklist, particularly, is the arrangement of the transitions. The beginning and end of each track are not necessarily the point of pivoting, but instead, there are shifts in mood and instrumentation throughout different points within a single track. This negation of linearity drives home the notion that all these songs are of the same song. 

To my ears, these mixes are dense with effects, vocal choruses, and stops and starts that make you question what (where?) you’re listening to. While each track is said to be the same song reiterated, some takes are heavy-handed, laying on all the bells and whistles, while others stay close to their simplest form. Always holds the heaviness of impermanence while offering itself as levity. The result is a crisp and intimate exaggeration of our common human experience.

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