Mia Alma’s EP 'Dreaming of Aduana' Forges Unity out of Duality

Mia Alma is the soul of Simone Reisman Saravia, a New York native currently living in Mexico. In her new EP, Dreaming of Aduana, she meticulously combines these two distinct cultures. “Aduana” is a Spanish word for “customs,” so the title translated into English means “dreaming of customs.” It’s fitting that the title flows from one language to another, as she sings in both English and Spanish throughout the body of work. A sense of longing permeates Dreaming of Aduana—longing for distant memories, budding romance, and a chance to change what once was.

Beginning an album with a long track often seems bold, and Mia Alma rises to the challenge beautifully. The opener “Harta de Vos” presents a lush soundscape, creating layers of texture with dreamy synth pads, brooding strings, and a reverb-soaked snare. Saravia cleverly places the listener under her spell as she expels her frustrations with another. The song is so hypnotic that you don’t realize it’s six and a half minutes long until the sharp contrast of the next track breaks the trance.

“I thought you were” is more stripped down. It feels a bit dry following the thick reverb of its predecessor, but this abrupt stylistic shift draws the listener in closer. Open and vulnerable, most of the song features only Saravia’s voice and an acoustic guitar. She reflects on a past relationship with an air of uncertainty: “And I thought I saw your core / Guess that I was wrong.” She’s despondent over the loss of something that wasn’t quite what it seemed.

Mia Alma quickly shifts again, conjuring up an eerie aura for the remainder of the EP. “Coyote” is immediately foreboding. At times the wet vibrato of the electric guitar is at odds with the clean, naturality of the acoustic, perhaps mirroring an internal struggle. “Y auxocromo / Poco perdido / Pero junto / Con cromóforo / Te llevo” croons Saravia. Admittedly, I know little about chemistry. From what I understand, chromophores produce a molecule’s color. An auxochrome is a group of atoms attached to a chromophore, changing the chromophores ability to absorb light and thereby altering the color. In borrowing this chemical phenomena, Saravia suggests that she carries this other lost person, and that her own presence transforms them.

A warbly synth lead of varying triplets dominates “O para ser la flor que se abre por primera vez (Me Encantas).” The title doubles as the first line of the song, where Saravia muses “oh, to be a flower that opens for the first time.” It’s a journey through new love, through young adoration bursting into bloom. “I adore you,” she lovingly repeats. Twilling bird sounds place the listener in the forest that Saravia is running to with her beloved.

Dreaming of Aduana also includes the bonus track “Wet Trout October.” It’s a departure from the rest of the EP: sonically, it’s lower fidelity, and it’s the only track with a full drum kit. The previous songs on the album are much more polished by comparison. The reverb-drenched vocals put Saravia far away, perhaps an attempt to remove herself from a situation. “I’m not here, just you” she chants. As the other instruments build dissonance and compete for space, she is pushing herself further out of frame.

On Mia Alma’s Bandcamp, Saravia reflects, “Dreaming of Aduana was a long haul that simply did not want to be completed, yet somehow it happened.” Saravaia seems to be acknowledging that dissonance is deeply embedded in the project, leaving its resolution to unknown forces. Many elements that make up this EP are at odds with each other, but it’s quite clear: Saravia is the unifier, masterfully fusing them together.

-Rachel Dispenza

Delaney Motter