Saturday, April 21, 2012

Grimes - Visions

Exceptional experimental musicians make me ecstatic. Every so often there comes a wave of really good music and an argument can be made the most recent occurrence came on January 31, 2012. Two of my favorite albums of the year, Gotye’s Making Mirrors and Lana Del Rey’s Born to Die, were released on the same day.

You can argue its pure coincidence, but I think not. The old proverb “all good things come in threes” comes to mind when discussing this auspicious occurrence and Grimes latest album Visions, which was also released on January 31, 2012, proves my point. This dream pop damsel first came to my attention when she toured with one of my favorite singers Lykke Li last year. Recently, my awesome friend Amy reintroduced Grimes to me and I couldn’t be happier.

Last year while I was composing an article about Record Store Day I came across my first unique Grimes memorabilia and introduction to this amazing artist. For those unaware, like the recent resurgence of vinyl, cassettes have become the latest and coolest boutique items music collectors can purchase. Lately, many underground artists have self-released their EPs on cassette tapes to give locals a fun throwback feel with their music listening experience. Believe me the whole nostalgia thing really resonates with yours truly. As a result I became exposed to many new artists because of this cassette phenomenon, especially when I visited Vacation Vinyl in Silver Lake for the first time. During that first visit I discovered Grimes debut Geidi Primes on cassette and was immediately intrigued by the cover.

Shortly thereafter, Grimes started touring with Lykke Li and Grimes was now on my radar. However, searching for her music (physically) proved challenging. Even though I still purchase music (YES, I REALLY DO BUY ALL MY OWN MUSIC) I refused to order online and waited to purchase her music at a record store. Luckily, Amy made me a mix CD to hold me over until I was able to find Grimes.  As luck would have it, by the time I actually found her debut CD Geidi Primes I managed to purchase her entire catalog including Halfaxa and the recently released Visions, which is why I’m writing this review.

Visions delivers a diverse, yet distinctive avant-garde album comprised with unmistakable hook-heavy songs that transcend genres. Grimes greets her audience with an astonishing repertoire that it’s hard to believe the range she possesses. Some songs are perfect for the dance floor while others feel out of this world with a nod to 80s pop music. If you enjoy artists like Lykke Li, Crystal Castles, and the Cocteau Twins, Grimes is a must listen!

“Infinite Love Without Fulfillment” opens Visions and packs a wallop with weaving witch house and electropop sounds mashed up. From the beginning, listeners are pleasantly exposed to Grimes’ vocal experimentation with her infectious melodies.

 “Genesis” is an absolutely addictive track that transports your body and mind to a whole new level. The layered vocals on this track truly enhance this delightful dreamscape visionary song. “Genesis” is arguably the best song of 2012 and easily one of the year’s Top 10 songs. Listening to this song, it’s easy to understand why Grimes is so mesmerizing.

Considering how much I enjoyed Cliff Martinez’s Drive soundtrack and The Social Network soundtrack by Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor, “Oblivion” seems like an obvious choice for a song to enjoy. The slick synth structured beats are so infectious it’s hard not to fall in love with this song.

Like I said, the range for this bedroom belladonna is unbelievable. Imagine Nine Inch Nails with robotic backing vocals and you would get Grimes’ “Eight.” The eerily excellent electronic “Circumambient” conjures crazy imagery perfect for strobe lights. One of the highlights on Visions is when Grimes demonstrates her octave range a la Minnie Riperton (“Lovin’ You”) around the 2:44 mark. Wow, she has an amazing pair of pipes. Even something more accessible like “Vowels = Space and Time” feels perfect for the club. Grimes loves it all.

The absurdly awesome bassline on “Be a Body” really recharges this song halfway through and makes it a must “dance to” track. The Crystal Castles sounding “Colour of Moonlight (Antiochus)” featuring Doldrums follows. The soothing "Symphonia IX (My Wait Is U)" is a beautiful flowing dark dream while the ever enticing “Nightmusic” featuring Majical Cloudz possesses rich, remarkable rhythms. Two delicious dream pop tracks, “Skin” and “Know the Way” finish Visions.

Grimes showcases the odd world we all live in with each of her albums. Whether utilizing computer generated genres, grimewave, industrial, dream pop, new age, etc., Grimes retains an ever expanding repertoire of influences that permeates through her ingenious music.

--Mr Brownstone

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