SKY DIVING PENGUINS: Gia’s Georgian Revelation.
AS the familiar world we once occupied fades from memory to be replaced by a dark unpredictable future blighted by fear and isolation, the hugely anticipated debut album from Sky Diving Penguins somehow manages to throw a comforting velvet-clad arm around our collective shoulders, uniting us, easing our worries, and gently whispering that one way or another, it’s all going to work out just fine.
With no disrespect to anyone past present or indeed future, Gia Iashvili, the genius behind Sky Diving Penguins, has unequivocally presented us with the album of the year. Perhaps even one of the greatest debut albums of the past decade. I can’t recall another that has generated such anticipatory fervour – and then gone on to surpass all expectations.
It’s been a long time coming, but we’re rewarded with a deeply personal album, Gia’s sweat and toil, along with his constant search for perfection, evident throughout.
“Every word and every note that I recorded on this album is honest,” said Gia. “It took me three years to complete. This is also the last piece of work my producer and friend, Mark Tolle, was involved in. He died a couple of years ago. I wouldn’t change a bit of this album.”
The music industry – notoriously fickle and self-indulgent – once proclaimed long and loud Sky Diving Penguins as the ‘next big thing’ only to cast them aside as quickly as they had championed them for reasons that will forever remain a mystery.
But far from being discouraged, Gia has returned in triumph, a labour of love, of meticulous production, a beautifully serene Georgian musical revelation.
For weeks the internet has been flooded with praise for the album’s opener, ‘I Don’t Want, I Don’t Care,’ but those who choose to believe the track merely sets the tone for what follows couldn’t be further from the truth.
By his own admission Gia’s music has been, and perhaps continues to be, shaped by The Beatles, but there are other influences at play too: Beck, Radiohead, and sounds and inspirationsfrom his Georgian roots. The result is unique, impossible to pigeonhole and those, possibly lazy, Beatles references are soon forgotten as ‘I Don’t Want, I Don’t Care’ gently leads us into the Nirvana-esque ‘Serotonin.’
Perhaps it’s a result of Gia’s musical – and to a lesser extent cultural – isolation which works in the album’s favour, based in Tbilisi steadfastly following his own path, undoubtedly touched by the consequences of the ongoing pandemic, yet at the same time driven by a powerful combination of ire, hope and destiny.
“The pressure and panic that comes from the media and the government doesn’t help the creative process. It took me a while to find the strength and come out of this vicious circle and start writing and recording songs again. I talked to my friend, and he advised me to turn my anger into creativity and that also helped a lot.
“I used to think a lot about “what would have happened.” Now I think about that less.
“Where I am right now and what I see on TV or internet means it’s hard for me to predict the future of music, but I’m very optimistic about it, or try to be. I haven’t got a clue what’s going on in the UK Indie music scene right now.”
The album oozes brilliance, from the stunning simplicity of ‘This Is Breaking Me Apart’ to the graceful, ‘Run Boy’ as it transports us back to the 1960’s with its wonderful fable of, “ice-cream mountains, melon suns, cops with water guns and trees made out of bubble gum.”
The journey continues. ‘All Goes Back in The Box in The End’ pulls you in with its driving, mouth organ-infused beat, a song light-heartedly yet pointedly advising us to not waste a second of our precious time, a theme continued in ‘Depressed or Bored.’ “As I grow old, only time matters.”
The wistful ‘Headaches Will Cause Migraines’ heralds the beginning of the albums end which ultimately concludes with the mesmerizing, ‘Trippin’ #9,’ its mellow opening giving way to something harder edged, yet equally hypnotic.
“I’m sure every artist that creates music wants to be heard. I’m no exception,” added Gia. “The first album is ready, and the second is on the way. I’m writing and recording. If you’ve been given the talent, you shouldn’t waste it. I’m sure that if you keep going and doing it right, then somethings gonna’ come out of that. I don’t know what, but something will happen one day.”
In the crowded battlefield of attempting to raise music above the average, the maverick Gia has appeared on the horizon, slowly riding into town bestowing upon us his magnificent piece of work.
It’s a piece of work against which all future others will now be judged, and it’s set the bar high.
PRODUCER: Gia Iashvili
CO-PRODUCERS: Mark Tolle & Kote Kalandadze
SOUND ENGINEER: Kote Kalandadze
MASTERING: Pete Maher
MIXING: Kote Kalandadze & Mark Tolle
Guitar, Bass, Mouth Organ, Electric Piano, Percussion & Vocals
Acoustic Guitar (I Don’t Want, I Don’t Care)
Electric Guitar (Hating Waiting & Tripping #9)
Electric Guitar (Serotonin)
Flute (This Is Breaking Me Apart & Headaches Will Cause Migraines)
Trumpet (I Don’t Want, I Don’t Care. Hating Waiting & About One Hermit)
French Horn (I Don’t Want, I Don’t Care & About One Hermit)
Cello (I Don’t Want I Don’t Care, This is Breaking Me Apart, Hating Waiting, About One Hermit & Headaches Will Cause Migraines)