Maria Chiara Argirò (pronounced ma-REE-ah key-AH-rah  r-gee-ROW) 

“This is completely different from everything I've done before,” says Maria Chiara Argirò of her latest album, Closer.  “I really connect with this record a lot – I've never felt so satisfied about anything.” 

Closer is an album rooted deep in a feeling that overcame Argirò. “I was really locked in with this feeling and I was like: I need to make this record now,” she says. It’s not an obvious or easily describable feeling that was bubbling away inside Argirò though. “A dreamlike feeling in motion,” she explains. “A feeling that we cannot describe, a dream I’m sort of walking through.” 

However, despite being rooted in something indescribable or definable, Argirò set about making this record with a laser focus on what she wanted to do. “I had a clarity for this record that I didn't have for others,” she says. “I just knew what I wanted – from the production to where I wanted a trumpet solo. We didn’t experiment a lot with this record because I just knew what to do. This might be a once in a lifetime thing to happen.” 

A once in a lifetime occurrence or moment of perfectly crystalised creative vision, perhaps, but you could also argue that Closer is the natural evolutionary by-product of a highly skilled, nuanced and ambitious artist who is able to trust their intuition to create something singular. 

Argirò has been a central figure in the UK jazz, classical and electronic worlds since she moved to London from Rome over a decade ago. A skilled pianist since childhood, she’s collaborated with everyone from These New Puritans to Jono McCleery to Jamie Leeming alongside output with Moonfish. Her previous solo album, the stunning electronic jazz-fusion record Forest City, received widespread critical acclaim and was covered by the likes of The Guardian, Pitchfork, Vogue, and Rolling Stone. Her music has featured in the Netflix series, Elite, and she can count the likes of Four  Tet and Gilles Peterson as fans, with the latter describing her music as “absolutely crazy good”. 

The result of this journey, both sonic and personal, can be keenly felt on Closer. “While working on the music there was this strong feeling of getting, with every single note, closer and closer to the person I want to be,” she says. “I was like, this is my thing, this is my baby, I need to connect more with myself and the music and have this sort of conscious journey. To be free, curious and closer connected to the people I love. There is so much noise in this world, I think being direct, gentle, light, open and connected is the key.” 

While it is definitely not a concept album, the record does mirror the path of inner self-exploration that Argirò has been on. Albeit moving in unpredictable ways, as it traverses the spectrum of electronic music spanning ambient to dance music, while also retaining light touches of jazz with a leaning towards experimental pop via Argirò’s more central and up-front vocals. 

The opening ‘Light’ – a song about “establishing a lighter and balanced relationship with your inner self and consequently with others” – is a beautiful piece of immersive yet infectious synth-pop, with the slow-burn unfurling “Closer” following, merging sparse drums with deft melodies, glimmering production and a vocal performance that feels both tender yet quietly rousing. ‘Time’ is a stirring track that gradually builds from a soft, soul-jazz inflected piece before it rockets into techno thumper territory – yet all the while retaining that light, dreamy, immersive quality that Argirò is so skilled at.    

Finding clarity and sharpened definition in between blurred lines and dreamlike worlds, is the core duality and dichotomy that underpins Closer. Not only is this reflected in the philosophy that drove Argirò’s creative approach but it results in a genre-fluid record that gracefully blends engulfing atmospheres, glistening synths and pummelling beats; creating a space where melody and deconstructed rhythms harmoniously coexist.

Much like that feeling that overcame and gripped Argirò, forcing her to make the most direct and clear work of her life, the end result may not be easy to pigeonhole into genre but it is loaded with personality.  “I'm just trying to follow my instincts,” Argirò says. “When I compose, I'm so focused, there is nothing that can distract me. I’m not worried if this music is going to be liked. I’m focused on the music – and what’s next.”

The end result of this record is not just in creating something that is breaking new sonic ground for Argirò, but also making something she feels deeply anchored to on a personal level. “It's been so important for me to connect with myself making this record,” she says. “That's why this album is hard to define because there is no connection with the outside world, it’s all about the inner self.” 

And one of the many beautiful consequences of Argirò making a record that set out to undo previous ways of working and thought processes, is that it’s opened up the future for endless possibilities. “I am progressing continuously,” she says. “Which means that I have no boundaries for what's coming next.”  

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