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Grimes - Visions

 
20 April, 2012
 
 
 

By Uncle Pooky

 

In the UK, or in London at least (I don't know nor really care about what happens out in the sticks), Grime is a hardcore blend of UK garage and dancehall. Think early Dizzee Rascal. Think aggressive lyrics set to dirty bass lines and 2 step breakbeats. So when I was told I just had to listen to "this amazing new artist, Grimes", you can imagine what I was expecting. It seems Canada didn't get the memo. Far from being disappointed though, I've been completely enchanted by this 24 year old slightly emo waif of a girl from Vancouver and her lo-fi/dream pop electronica offerings. In fact, I was hooked within a few bars of listening to the track I was first recommended (Oblivion), and after rinsing out that one, I moved onto the rest of her newly released album Visions, for more of the same.

 

What I like most about this album, and about Grimes in general, is how strong an identity her musical and production values have. The digital samples and effects are really old school, and take you right back to the soundscapes of the 80s and early 90s, when artists and producers hardly moved away from the pre-sets, so enchanted were they with their new toys and their noises.

 

Her tracks are overlaid with a cascade of vocal samples and vocal loops, blending seamlessly into suitably ambiguous, borderline dark lyrical content ("And as I walk about, after dark (..) someone could break your neck, coming up behind you").

 

Her delivery is high pitch and ethereal, with almost childish qualities at times (she even has a slight lisp), although she's equally capable of blasting out almost ear splitting shrills (I dare you to listen to Eight with the treble right up!) It's primarily these high tones that help her achieve some really striking dynamics within her work as it contrasts so nicely with the satisfyingly deep basslines or, slightly more rarely, with her mid tones when she goes down her register such as in the album's second track, Genesis.

 

But this is no one trick pony when it comes to song dynamics, and Grimes uses an array of techniques to great effect to support the general lack of conventional structure in her songs. I think this is much more apparent in the second part of the album though, with songs like Be a Body, Nightmusic and Skin for example. The first seven tracks of Visions certainly have a more upbeat and poppy feel to them, but this is not to take anything away from the sheer brilliance of tracks like Oblivion (the first single released from the album), Circumambient or Vowels = Space and Time.

 

There's clearly an eclectic blend of influences here -the album's press release lists Enya, TLC and Aphex Twin  (I'm betting she loved Windowlicker, given the way she uses vocal loops), whilst drawing from genres like New Jack Swing, IDM, New Age, K-pop, Industrial and glitch. But that doesn't really give anything away about the album itself. You will still be taken aback when you listen to this. Sure, you'll spot the nods in the direction of her inspirations, and some of the melodies are so poppy they might even evoke specific songs. But make no mistake, this is fresh, this is original, and this is talent. A rare gem in an all too conformist musical era.

 

Visions is being released by the London based 4AD label, and is Grimes' third album, following on from Halfaxa (2010) and her debut Geidi Primes (also 2010), both originally only released on cassette. Now that's what I call lo-fi!

 



QUICK ALBUM FACTS

Primary Genre: Low-Fi

Subgenre: Experimental

Release Date: 12 March 2012

Label: 4AD

Influences: Cocteau Twins

Like This And You'll Probably Also Like:  Chelsea Wolfe, Zola Jesus

Album Highlights: Oblivion, Be A Body, Colour Of Moonlight

  

 

 

 

 

 


 

NIX'S 2 CENTS

 

"What a talented individual she is! I love playing Oblivion in dj-sets, and I'm so looking forward to catching a live show asap,  7.5/10"

 


 


 

 

 

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Uncle Pooky

Uncle Pooky

 
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